Sixteen-year-old Alfonso is a long way from home.
The 11th-grader is part of the United Cultures, S.L. exchange student program and has traveled from Spain to stay with the Philips family in Jamestown for the month of July.
AnnMarie and her husband, Wayne, along with their three children, Andrew, 28, Amy, 27, and Adam, 15, have opened their home to Alfonso. This isn't their first time hosting a foreign student, however; they became involved for the first time when they saw an ad in the paper. The family then had to fill out an online application and representatives from United Cultures surveyed their home to determine their eligibility.
Alfonso, a foreign exchange student from Spain, is pictured with Adam Phillips, 15, of Jamestown.
"We like adventure," AnnMarie said. "We had hosted some French students years ago, and we enjoyed it. So we decided to host again."
As the family have always lived in Jamestown, sharing the rich history and heritage of the town with others is important to them.
"We enjoy meeting new people and showing them about where we live," said AnnMarie.
This is Alfonso's first visit to the U.S., although he may want to return in the future.
After his whirlwind introduction to Jamestown, Alfonso was impressed by its sense of community.
"It's very nice. I think there is a good friendship with other people in the area," he said.
The Philips have been going nonstop since Alfonso's arrival in order to make sure all the local sights are covered. The family takes their guest everywhere they can think of.
"I'm already doing things," Alfonso said, "I don't stop at any moment."
"He thinks we're a little crazy 'cause we go all the time," AnnMarie added.
So far, Alfonso has been to Waldameer, the Lucy-Desi museum, the Robert H. Jackson Center, Chautauqua Lake and several ice cream places. He is expecially excited to see Niagara Falls, and his favorite trip as of yet has been to the Galleria Mall in Buffalo.
Although Alfonso is still working on his English, he is fluent in both Spanish and French. He has a black belt in judo, enjoys playing soccer and wants to pursue a career in computer science.
"I give him a lot of credit because he comes here, he doesn't know anybody," AnnMarie said. "He tries everything and he goes everywhere. I think it's great."
Living with someone from another country is a learning experience, as Alfonso and the Philips family can both confirm.
"How much do we know about Spain?" Wayne asked. "Well, it's across the other side of the ocean, that's what we know. but now we get to know a little bit more."
The family recently went to see the new Spiderman movie, which Adam says won't be released in Spain for another six months. Wayne commented on the similarities between his son and Alfonso.
"You get to see a 15-year-old, 16-year-old, and they're doing the same things," Wayne said. "Different ways, but the same things."