Coming To America: Basketball just one lesson Navarro is learning on visit to the United States – The Tribune

Coming to America: Basketball just one lesson Navarro is learning during his visit to the United States

Posted at 20:53 Wednesday, November 23, 2022

By Jim Walker

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SOUTH POINT — When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When you’re in America, hey, play basketball.

And so it is with exchange student Araceli Navarro, who has traveled from Spain to South Point to experience American culture, Appalachian style.

Araceli Navarro

Navarro stays with the Caleb Copley family and tries to learn new things from people to education to sports. While it was a great learning experience, there was quite an adjustment period.

“I wanted to learn more about American culture and have a different experience, so I did the exchange for that,” Navarro said.

“Obviously, the first few weeks it’s a bit strange because I don’t know everyone’s different lifestyle. It’s not bad, it’s just different. But you get to learn how to live with different people, so it’s a good experience.”

Navarro has a brother Roman who is 6-foot-1 and plays college and semi-pro basketball in her native Spain, where players can do both.

“He’s good,” Navarro said of her brother.

Araceli said she has played some basketball “but not like here.”

“I’ve been watching my brother since I was little and I really like basketball and the games and I watch it. I didn’t know I was going to play, but I just got the offer and decided I wanted to try it.”

But Navarro quickly realized there was a big difference between watching and playing.

“The first week it was kind of hard for me to understand everything and I’m still having a hard time trying to understand the projects. But I’m really trying and getting there, so it’s hard but not that much,” Navarro said.

Things may have been awkward at first for Navarro when she arrived at the Copley home, but Caleb Copley said there was also an adjustment period for his family, too.

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There was a bit of a language problem – accent to be exact – when Navarro arrived. Copley said Navarro speaks good English and it’s easy enough to pick up on her accent, but the southeast Ohio accent was difficult for her at first.

“She’s been working on her English since she was a little kid,” Copley said. “But she said our accents were what threw her off when she first came here. He could understand the words if he could understand what we were saying. It would be the same if someone from New York came here. They would have no idea. They don’t understand the subtleties of our accent.

“He got the girls better than me. I have a slightly stronger accent and she had a little more trouble with me. She said sometimes I would talk and she would smile and shake her head trying to understand what I was saying. But he said he has it now. I told her all she had to do was tell me and she said “I know but I didn’t know all of them yet. I was still trying to figure it all out.”

Being from Spain and speaking Spanish, Navarro said there was no temptation to use her foreign language to say something nasty to a referee or an opposing player if she was mad.

“It would be funny, but I haven’t tried it,” Navarro said with a laugh.

Learning to understand the game from a play standpoint has been made easier for her because of head coach Dave Adams and assistant coaches Todd Pennington, Kayla Fletcher and Wes Hall.

“Coach Adams was very good. All the coaches were good. They help me a lot, so I’m very grateful for that,” he said.

While everyone has been helpful, Navarro said she has learned many things, but one lesson stands out for her above all else.

“I think the most important thing I learned from this experience is to be independent and you have to learn how to be on your own, not with your parents or everyone’s help all the time. Just try to figure things out for yourself,” Navarro said.

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Copley said he is impressed with how well Navarro has learned to navigate the area on her own.

“She is traveling alone. He is doing very well. Every now and then she faces a cultural barrier, but we are there to explain things she doesn’t understand. For the most part, he loves America,” Copley said.

“It opened my eyes to how the rest of the world sees America. The first time she saw a school bus she wanted to take her picture with it. He said we only see these in movies. American culture is as global as movies. He sees things he always thought were only American things. Everyone watches American movies and TV shows. They have TV shows, but they are not of such high quality. American singers and actors are more of a global superstar.

“She’s 16 years old and she gave up a year of her life to come here and become a part of American culture. That’s how important it is to her. He makes TicToc videos. He did one with an Italian foreign exchange student and one of the American students teaching each other language as if trying to say the same thing in different languages. It went viral in Spain. It had about 100,000 views overnight. She has a lot of fans because they want to see what American culture is like for a Spanish woman.”

There is one thing Navarro learned that was the most surprising since her arrival.

“I really like high school,” she said. “I really like my classes. I just love going to school and I didn’t expect that at all.”

Navarro said everything about the education system is very different from what she has experienced in Spain.

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“The teachers, how they teach you, all the classes we have here are different,” Navarro said, then added, “It’s better. I have no doubt about it.”

Copley said Navarro was not violating her teachers in Spain.

“I think the big thing she felt is that it wasn’t that her teachers didn’t care about Spain, she said the teachers here seem to care more here not about what they teach their students but what their views are and how they feel students about things. It’s more of a real relationship and not just teaching and learning. And she likes that aspect,” Copley said.

One area Copley said Navarro got bonus points was the time she spends in the bathroom getting ready.

“It’s not too bad compared to the American women,” Copley said with a laugh.

The Copleys have five children – four girls and one boy. Eldest daughter Addison is 14 and Navarro is 16.

“This is the first time we’ve had an exchange student and we couldn’t have done better than we did. She fits in perfectly with us and is great with the kids. She and Addison are like best friends,” Copley said.

“The other night we were doing some Christmas stuff and everyone was tearing up thinking it’s halfway through the year and he’s coming back. She is one of our family now. We just had our family Christmas photo done and he was in it. It will be hard for us to see her return. I am sure we will go there and visit. Her grandmother has already said she wants us to come.”

And since Navarro had to learn to live like Americans while in America, it seems the Copleys have a lesson to learn. When in Spain, do as the Spanish do.

“Ensename a vivir español.” (Translation: Teach me how to live Spanish.)

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