Belgian exchange student brings global perspective to local kids

November 5, 2018

HARLINGEN — Normally this time of year she’d be walking through freezing, snowy weather.

However, Noa Williot isn’t at home in Biesme in the Belgian province of Namur. She’s here as an exchange student at Harlingen High School.

“ It’s been two months and I’m enjoying my time here,” said Noa, 18, who is staying with Joel and Teleshia Vincent through the Rotary Club.

“ I love my host family,” she said. “They are such a nice family. It’s really going great.”

Noa, the daughter of Benoit and Ophelie Williot, has wanted to be an exchange student since she was 6 years old. She was inspired by her father who had been an exchange student in Mexico.

She’s enjoying the differences.

“ It’s very different from Belgium, different weather, different schools,” she said. “I love to discover a new culture because it’s very different.”

One big difference is high school sports.

“ We don’t have football or volleyball,” she said. “If you want to play sports you have to go to a club.”

She likes the camaraderie that comes with high school sports.

“ When you go to games it’s good getting together,” she said.

This isn’t her first time in the U.S. Two years ago she visited Washington, D.C., North Carolina and South Carolina.

“ Charleston was beautiful,” she said.

Noa said she almost didn’t get to be an exchange student because there were a limited number of U.S. cities accepting them. However, they opened it up and she got in. Her first choice had been California.

“ When they told me I was going to Texas I was thinking cowboys, desert and ranches,” she said with a laugh. “When I got here I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh it’s so beautiful.’”

Although she says she misses her friends and family back home, she’s not homesick.

“ I really love being with my friends and family here and going out with them,” she said. “I think it’s really cool.”

Noa’s already graduated from high school so her credits at Harlingen High won’t really count. However, the experience of being an exchange student in the United States will serve her well in the years to come. She plans to be here for the entire school year before attending school in Brussels to study communications.