Coming to America: The only basketball lesson Navarro learns is when he visits the United States
Posted 20:53 Wednesday, November 23, 2022
By Jim Walker
SOUTH POINT – When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in America, he plays basketball.
So is Araceli Navarro, a foreign exchange student who traveled from Spain to South Point to experience American culture, Appalachian style.
Navarro stays with Caleb Copley’s family and tries to learn from people and sports to new things. While it was a great learning experience, it was quite an adjustment period.
“I wanted to learn more about American culture and have a different experience, so I made the exchange,” Navarro said.
“Of course, the first few weeks feel strange because I don’t know everyone’s different lifestyles. Not bad, just different. But you can learn how to live with different people, so it’s a good experience.”
Navarro has a brother, Roman, who is 6-foot-8 and plays college basketball and semi-pro in his native Spain, where players can do both.
“He’s fine,” his brother Navarro said.
According to Araceli, he played a little basketball “but not like here.”
“I’ve been watching my brother since I was little, and I love basketball and the games and watching him. I didn’t know I was going to play, but I just got the offer and I decided to give it a try.”
But Navarro quickly learned that there was a big difference between watching and playing.
“The first week it was a little difficult for me to understand everything and I’m still trying to understand the plays. But I’m really trying and I’m getting there, so it’s hard, but not that hard,” Navarro said.
Navarro may have been uncomfortable with the Copley family at first, but Caleb Copley said it was an adjustment period for his family as well.
When Navarro arrived, there was a bit of a language challenge – more specifically, the accent. Copley said Navarro speaks good English and his accent is easy to understand, but the southeast Ohio accent was difficult for him at first.
“He’s been working on English since he was a kid,” says Copley. “But he said that when he first came here, our accent put him off. If he understood what we were saying, he would understand the words. It would be the same if someone came here from New York. They would have nothing. They don’t understand the subtleties of our accent.
“He accepted girls better than me. I have a bit of a strong accent and he had a bit of trouble with me. He said that sometimes I would talk and he would just smile and nod his head trying to understand what I was saying. But he said he has now. I told him, and he said tell me, and he said, “I know, but I don’t know everything. I’m still trying to figure it out.”
Navarro, who is from Spain and speaks Spanish, said he has no temptation to use a foreign language to insult an official or an opposing player if he is mad.
“It would be funny, but I haven’t tried,” Navarro said with a laugh.
Thanks to head coach Dave Adams and assistant coaches Todd Pennington, Kayla Fletcher and Wes Hall, learning to understand the game from a play position has been easy for him.
“(Coach Adams) has been great. All the coaches have been great. They’ve been helping me a lot, so I’m very grateful,” he said.
Although everyone helped, Navarro said he learned a lot, but one lesson was the most important to him.
“I think the most important thing I learned from this experience is to be independent and you have to learn to be on your own, not with your parents or with everyone helping you all the time. “Just try to figure it out for yourself,” Navarro said.
Copley said he was impressed with how well Navarro learned to handle the area on his own.
“He walks around on his own. It works very well. Each time he gets culturally blocked, but we are there to explain things to him that he doesn’t understand. Most of the time, he likes America,” says Copley.
“It opened my eyes to how the rest of the world sees America. When he saw the school bus for the first time, he wanted to take a picture with it. He said that we will see it only in the movies. American culture is so global with movies. He always sees things that he thinks are only American things. They all watch American movies and TV shows. They have TV shows, but it’s not that good. American singers and actors are global superstars.
“He’s 16 years old and he gave up a year of his life to come here and be a part of American culture. How important it is to him. He makes TicToc videos. He did an activity with an Italian foreign student and one of the American students teaching each other the language and trying to say the same thing in different languages. It went viral in Spain. It was viewed about 100,000 times in one day. “She has a lot of followers because they want to see what American culture is like for a Hispanic girl.”
Navarro has learned one of the most surprising things since his arrival.
“I really like high school,” he said. “I really like my classes. I love going to school and I didn’t expect anything at all.”
Navarro said everything about the education system is very different from what he experienced in Spain.
“The teachers, how they teach you, all the subjects we have here are different,” Navarro said, and then added, “It’s better. I have no doubt about it.”
Copley said Navarro did not insult his teachers in Spain.
“I think the biggest thing he felt was not that his teachers in Spain didn’t care, he said that the teachers here seem to be more interested in what their students think and think than what they are teaching here. how students feel about things. It’s not just teaching and learning, it’s a real relationship. And he likes that aspect,” says Copley.
Copley said Navarro got bonus points for the time he spent getting ready in the bathroom.
“Not too bad compared to American women,” Copley said with a laugh.
Copley has five children — four girls and one boy. Oldest daughter Addison is 14 years old, Navarro is 16 years old.
“This is the first time we have had an exchange student and we couldn’t have had a better student. He fits right in with us and is great with the kids. He and Edison are like best friends,” says Copley.
“Last night we were doing Christmas stuff and they were all crying about the half way through the year and him coming back. He is now one of our family. We took our family Christmas picture and he was in it. It will be hard for us to see him return. I hope we will go there and visit. Grandma said she wants us to come.”
As Navarro had to learn to live like an American while in America, it seems the Copleys had lessons they needed to learn. When in Spain, do as the Spaniards do.
“Ensename a vivir español.” (Translated: Teach me how to live in Spanish.)