Nahia Torre sees Huntley through outside eyes

Torre+and+friends+hike+in+the+mountains+of+Basque+Country.+%28Courtesy+of+Nahia+Torre%29

Torre and friends hike in the mountains of Basque Country. (Courtesy of Nahia Torre)

Delaney Cairns

When Nahia Torre heard word from her soon-to-be host, she was devastated. She had been looking forward to this experience for over two years and felt as if one message had just ended everything.
She was not the only one disappointed, Torre intended to be Beth Crisci and her family’s fourth foreign exchange student before COVID-19 cut their plans short.
“In May, the school said they were not taking foreign exchange students because they did not know what the school year would look like, and if they would have enough space in the school to accommodate one more student in the school with the 3-feet distance,” Crisci said. “Nahia wrote us the ‘it’s not going to happen’ letter and we kind of gave up.”
But soon after this setback, something shifted in Crisci and her family’s attitude. She decided to write a letter to Superintendent Scott Rowe and Principal Marcus Belin, explaining their situation. They agreed to let her come.
“We got to tell her again, we could tell her that we fought for her and she finally gets to come,” Crisci said.
After the long wait, Torre landed in the United States for the first time on Aug. 8 and has been here for two months thus far.
As a student from Basque Country, Torre has never been anywhere like Huntley before. Everything from the culture and language to the architecture and education differs from Europe.
“When I first arrived in Huntley I was very confused because everything looks the same here, all of the houses and buildings look the same, so sometimes I still get lost,” Torre said.
Huntley High School also came with many new experiences for Torre. According to Torre, in Basque Country, school is just about studying. There are no Homecoming weeks or football games, but now she has more freedom to have fun and really enjoy learning.
“Here you have a lot of activities and clubs to do and high school can be fun. Everything is huge, you celebrate everything really, really big. For example, we’re in September and you are putting up things for Halloween,” Torre said. “Americans celebrate and live for everything really intensely.”
Torre has had to make many adjustments to her way of life in the transition from a beautiful close-knit beach town, to a spread-out cornfield community. She has learned to manage her time in a different way and found she needs to ask for rides to get around.
When students come to the United States as foreign exchange students, they are encouraged to join a sport or club of some sort. In Basque Country, Torre played handball for eight years, enjoyed hiking and rock climbing with her dad, and played the ukulele and the trikitixa.
Torre had the opportunity to join the cross country team at Huntley and is very content with her decision.
“I chose cross country because it is a sport where you do not really have to learn any rules. It was really easy to make friends too because everyone on the team is so nice,” Torre said.
English is Torre’s fourth language, but through her fluency and comprehension, it is hard to tell. She also speaks Basque, Spanish, and a little bit of German.
“The difficult part is thinking in English, but I believe the best way to truly learn a language is through using it on a daily basis, and everyone here has been very helpful,” Torre said.
Torre has also used Huntley as a setting for her to focus on her future and study things she is interested in as opposed to just completing requirements.
“I want to study architecture in the future, so I am taking CAD (Computer-Aided Design) at the high school right now which is something I could not do in Basque Country, I really enjoy that class,” Torre said.
Torre will be in Huntley for the entire school year and into the summer, and is looking forward to making many new friends and memories.
If your family is interested in hosting a student like Torre, there are two spots open at the high school for more foreign exchange students who need host families through Greenheart.