Ahmed Rayyan and Ignacio Nácho Demian are two foreign exchange students from very different corners of the world who are currently living in Lyons and attending Lyons High School. Ahmed (16) is from the West Bank of Palestine, and Nácho (15) comes to Lyons from Chile. Both young men arrived here in August; Nácho will be staying through January 6, for the fall/winter semester (its spring/summer in Chile), while Ahmed will be here for the entire 2018/19 school
year, returning home sometime in June. Ahmed is staying with the Richardson family here in Lyons, and Nacho is living with Kim Mitchell and her husband Dave Hatchimonji.
Ahmed, a junior at LHS, (he attends Al Hussain Ben Ali Secondary School back home) comes from a fairly large Muslim family. He has two brothers; one age 22, studying mechanical engineering in Indonesia, and the second, age 19, studying pre-med in Cairo, Egypt. His three sisters are 23, 20, and 14. The eldest is an architect, the middle one is studying Islamic law in Palestine, and his youngest sister is in high school back home in Hebron. With a population of a little over 200,000 people, it is the largest city on the West Bank. Ahmed's father is a computer programmer and his mother, with six children, has been a stay-at-home mom.
A talented athlete, Ahmed will be playing basketball for the Lions this winter, and plans to participate on the Lyons track team this spring. His event back in Hebron was the high jump, where he has cleared 1.65 meters. (nearly 5' 5” in the U.S.). His favorite class is calculus, and he would someday like to follow in his brother's footsteps and study pre-med to become a surgeon, or maybe attend MIT here in America. His hardest class here in Lyons has been history. Apparently, the history in U.S. textbooks offers a slightly different slant than what he has been accustomed to growing up in another country. Another big adjustment has come from the cultural differences he is confronted with on a daily basis. Being from a Muslim community, Ahmed has never attended school with girls before.However, this is a challenge he seems willing to take on.
Two things here in Colorado Ahmed is fascinated with are the architecture of the buildings (particularly the historic ones in and around Denver and Boulder) and nature; the abundance of greenery, trees, etc., here in the mountains of Colorado. Earlier this fall, he joined Nácho and his host family for a camping trip along the Poudre River Gorge outside of Ft. Collins, and was knocked out by the sheer canyon walls and the rapids.
Nácho hails from Los Ángeles, which also has a population of around 200,000, and is the capital of the Bío Bío province of Chile. His father is a sugar cane farmer, and his mother keeps the books for the farm. He has a younger brother (12) who is in middle school, and an older sister who is thirty-two.
Upon arrival here in the United States, Nácho decided to give American football a try at LHS. But with a lack of familiarity the nuances and rules of the game, not to mention the size of the opponents, he ultimately decided “desecration was the better part of valor” and has opted to play “international fútbol” (soccer) at Silver Creek High School in Longmont. Because of his superior ball handling skills and his foot speed Nácho is a natural midfielder playing defense when needed and helping to set up the offense.
As a holdover from his foray into American football, one of his favorite classes is weight training. None too surprising, his other favorite (read easiest) class is Spanish. On the other end of the spectrum Nácho admits his hardest subjects are geometry and art. In the future, back home in Chile, Nácho would like to attend college at an agricultural school, and maybe one day take over his father's farming business. The most unexpected thing for Nácho is the fact that his American classmates use IPads for homework and studying.
Both Ahmed and Nácho are incredibly personable young men, so if you happen to bump into them on the street, or at a function here in town it will be well worth your time to stop, have a chat, and get to know them.