Rodriguez Casalvague

By Chad Koenen


If it seems like there is not a lot in common between Madrid, Spain and Henning there is good reason for that—because there is virtually nothing in common between the two communities half a world apart. They don’t speak the same language, there are probably just as many people living on one block in the town of 3.4 million people in Spain as there are in the entire town of Henning, and the closest thing to public transportation in Henning is a big yellow school bus that picks up students each day during the week.

While navigating all of the differences between the two communities may seem like a daunting task, Pedro Rodriguez Casalvague wouldn’t have it any other way. The 16-year-old foreign exchange student is staying with the Matt and Sally Despard family in rural Henning this year. He is attending 10th grade and has enjoyed the opportunity to experience a new culture and the opportunities provided to him at Henning School.

“I like that it is different than other countries, especially in Europe,” he said. 

Rodriguez Casalvague was encouraged to become a foreign exchange student by his parents in Spain who wanted him to have the opportunity to learn from a different culture in America.

“My parents gave me the opportunity to do it. My dad and mom really wanted me to (be an exchange student),” he said. 

The exchange student said he has enjoyed all of the differences between the two countries, including the houses in America as in Spain many people live in an apartment building. This winter he joined the basketball team and was an attendant at the Snow Week festivities in January. 

Rodriguez Casalvague said he has enjoyed spending time with the Despard family and their house and is looking forward to the rest of the school year in Henning. In addition to his parents in Spain, he has a 14-year-old sister back home.