After hearing about his father's memorable Division Avenue High School experience from 31 years ago, Pablo Magdalena Fernandez knew he wanted to follow in his father's footsteps. Pablo is from Spain but came to the United States at the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year through a foreign exchange program to study in America for a year.
Pablo's father, Oscar Magdalena, did the program as a senior and attended Division Avenue High School. He made close friends and shared his positive experience with his son, calling it the "best year of his life." Mr. Magdalena said the American family he stayed with, the friends he made and the teachers and coaches he connected with made the experience a memorable one. There is one person in particular that stands out to him though.
"The most amazing and delighting experience was without a doubt meeting my brother Danny Lang," said Mr. Magdalena. "We met the first day of school, gym class, and ever since, we became best friends and have been together for the past 31 years. We are twin souls. He is my brother, the best friend anybody could dream of."
While Pablo is attending Division Avenue this school year, he is staying with the Lang family which "feels like home" to him. Mr. Magdalena is thankful every day that his best friend Danny, husband of Levittown board trustee Christina Lang, is able to make this opportunity possible for his son.
"He has such a wonderful wife and family," said Mr. Magdalena. "We really consider them our American Family, as well as they do with us."
Pablo has enjoyed spending his junior year of high school in America so far. He is enrolled in classes such as cooking, chemistry, math, U.S. history, Spanish, and weight training. The experience has also allowed him to make new friends and join the school's tennis and soccer teams just like his father did as a senior at the school. Pablo plays both sports in Spain.
Being away from family can be difficult but Pablo received a taste of home in December when his father returned to Levittown for the holidays, along with his mother, Gemma and sister, Sandra. During their visit, the family stopped in Pablo's cooking class to teach students how to make a Spanish omelet.
When Pablo returns to Spain after the school year ends, he will take back all the memories, friends and experiences that Division Avenue High School has offered him. He encourages anyone who is questioning doing a foreign exchange program to not be afraid to go for it.
"I would say do it because it's different," said Pablo. "We don't have proms in Spain, and we don't have school sports."
His 14-year-old sister also plans on attending Division Avenue when she reaches her junior year of high school. The family tradition will continue, thanks to two people from different worlds who connected through the hallways of Division Avenue High School.