hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA

May 29, 2014

From Russia to Haverhill

A year here teaches exchange student to love the city

By Mike LaBella
Staff Writer

---- — It was worthwhile, though it did make her home sick.

Russian exchange student Alina Skripets said the opportunity to attend Haverhill High School for her senior year changed her life and is one that she will never forget — although she missed her family greatly.

“Even though I can Skype with them often enough, it never can replace the real chats around the table with a cup of tea,” Alina said. “I also miss my teachers, especially for math, English and French. However, sometimes staying away from things you love makes one love those things even more.”

Alina, 17, said her senior year at Haverhill High was a memorable one and that she came to America as an exchange student for several reasons.

“I have always been fond of meeting new people and sharing my perspective of the world,” she said. “The feedback you get through this experience is very rewarding and it helped me to shape myself as well.”

She also came here to improve her language skills, which her Haverhill High teachers said she accomplished, and gain confidence as she hopes to attend college.

“The independent way of life that every exchange student gets a glimpse of transforms a person gradually to become more responsible and self confident,” she said.

Alina grew up in Moscow, where her mother owns and runs a small business and her father performs ophthalmologic microsurgeries for premature babies.

She said she found Haverhill to be a very inviting and friendly city to live in.

“The place where I live seems ideal for young people,” she said. “It has Skateland, a library, school and Winnekenni Park, all within walking distance.

“People in the community seem to be very nice too,” she said. “Despite the fact that exchange students don’t get to choose where they are going to live, now I think that if had a choice I would still probably decide to pick Haverhill.”

Alina’s favorite experience was participating in this year’s senior class production of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic spy thriller “The 39 Steps.”

“All the funny and embarrassing moments will forever stay with me,” she said.

When asked about recent events regarding Ukraine and Russia, Alina said it’s a delicate matter and that as an exchange student she does not feel comfortable making any statements.

“What I will say is that, in my opinion, the policy of the country cannot and should not affect the relationship between common people,” she said. “My family and friends don’t really dwell on the matter too much. Most families don’t. Plus, it is hard to tell what the mood really is being so far away from home.”

During her senior year here, Alina joined Haverhill High’s Interact Club — a Rotary Club youth service organization. Interact stands for “international action.’’

“As the club adviser, I found Alina to be a delightful teen who has interesting perspectives on politics, economics and culture,” said history teacher E. Philip Brown. “She will be missed by a lot of students and faculty at Haverhill High.”

What Alina Skripets likes about Haverhill

Recreation offered by places like the Skateland roller skating rink

The public library and its many research materials

Outdoor venues such as Winnekenni Park

A chance to act in Haverhill High’s senior class play