Student’s friendship grows despite distance

Payton Reid, Editorial Board

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Foreign exchange programs are built on the idea that students will travel, learn about different cultures, and expand their education. For junior Josh Bruns and former exchange student Mariona Amengual, a friendship was in the making from the start.

“I met Mariona in french class last year. We sat next to each other and just sort of became friends after talking for awhile,” Bruns said.

The two stuck together until Amenguals departure in the early summer of 2016. Since then, she has kept steady contact with her friends from Emerald Ridge and ensured the bonds they made over the course of the previous year would not fade.

“I never really considered [she would be leaving] until the last few months she was here,” Bruns said. “I’ve managed to stay friends with people far away before so I figured we would at least stay in touch.”

Junior English teacher Rebecca Waller takes students on an annual trip, typically somewhere in Europe. When Bruns signed up, paid the deposit, and prepared for the week-long vacation to London, England, Amengual told Bruns that she could fly out of her hometown to finally meet in person again. Being from the island of Mallorca, Spain, the flight to London would be much more convenient than a flight over 10 hours from Spain to Washington state.

Bruns arrived in London over spring break with fellow friends and classmates, but Amenguals arrival came later. When they were eventually reunited, the pair spent their time sightseeing with Amenguals father who Bruns has been able to speak to over FaceTime since the exchange program ended. Amengual makes a point of FaceTiming Bruns at least once a month or so, always saying a friendly hello to each others families as well.

“I don’t think our friendship weakened at all since the last time we saw each other but it was a nice reminder that she’s still one of my best friends,” said Bruns.

Amengual stresses that a true friendship is not simply with someone she might see everyday, but someone that she can remain close to no matter the miles or time differences that separate them. This closely matches Bruns view on their incredibly unique situation, as he believes that not being face to face regularly has made the few opportunities they have had to see each other all the more special.

Amengual was an active member of the Emerald Ridge theatre program and grew her relationships that would last the school year, and stretch beyond the distance that separates them. Despite being matched with the nerves of traveling to a different country to attend a full year of high school, her time in Puyallup was not wasted.

“I didn’t know what to expect, everything was so new that my thoughts were literally ‘get through the year having the best time ever, don’t think about how it will turn out, and enjoy every second of it,’” said Amengual.

Both Bruns and Amengual have friends over seas, aside each other, and recognize it may not be the most conventional way to have a friendship, but the pair plan to remain the same as any other set of friends. Distance is an obstacle, but it is not the defining factor of whether or not a bond will bend or break. They both speak highly of their situation, and Amengual uses her positive experience to offer advice to anyone in an exchange program, or simply distant from someone they care about.

“Treat them as if they were close,” Amengual said. “Don’t focus on the space that separates you, but on the things you share and enjoy talking about.”

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