Rayne family welcomes exchange student for two-month stay
By LIsa Soileaux, Assistant Editor, Rayne Acadian-Tribune
The family of Mark and Michelle Veillon includes five children. But, as of October 12th, the Veillon family expanded by one.
Diego Armando Enriquez, a 12-year-old from Guatamala City, Guatamala, has become part of the Veillon family as he is enjoying a two-month stay in south-central Louisiana.
“He just fit right in, both good and bad,” laughed Michelle Veillon of their young guest. “When he arrived it was the weekend of a big family gathering. He got right in there and visited with everyone and fit right in. From the looks of his first day, you thought he was a Cajun as he hugged and spoke to everyone he met like we do down here.”
During Diego’s stay, he is attending Rayne Catholic Elementary where two of the five Veillon children are students. He shares the class schedule of 8th grader Will, and has even participated in the school’s recently completed football season.
“I liked football,” noted Diego of his school activities. “Basketball is OK, but football was fun.”
Diego has also fit right in when it comes to his classroom studies. “He is doing well with his school subjects, too,” commented Michelle. “Language gets in the way sometimes, but he’s doing well, expecially in math.”
He has also enjoyed participating in the school’s “Buddy Program” in addition to church activities at St. Joseph Catholic Church.
Presently, he is busy with his science fair project for school, “Atomic Reactor.”
Commenting on his free time, Diego’s favorite activity is “outside” as he enjoys the neighborhood tree house with Will and little brother Max, and playing football with all the neighborhood kids.
“I like to play football with everyone around here,” he stated. “Where I live, in the city, we can’t do that. It’s really fun to have a lot of people to play games with.”
He has also attended a number of events and programs during his stay, in addition to spending time with other exchange students in the area at this time.
Diego’s visit was made possible through the Catholic Student Exchange with the Lafayette Diocese, as explained by Michelle. “Actually, I learned of the program through a friend and everything just fell into place after that. It has been a great experience not only for me and my husband, but the kids too.”
When commenting on adjustments of his stay, the family noted the spicy food. “At first, he had trouble with foods that had very little spice that was kinda bland to us,” noted MIchelle of the family’s regular menu. “Now, he loves the extra kick of spice we love here in Cajun country.”
Another adjustment for Diego was being part of a large family. The Veillon family has five children and Diego is an only child -- what a stretch -- but, he has adjusted well and likes Rayne.
“I feel safe all the time here,” he noted. “I live in a big city and it is filled with strangers. It is nice to be in a small city and in a neighborhood where everyone knows everyone. I think Rayne is a happy place to live.”
Diego completes his two-month stay for Christmas when he will fly over to California to reunite with his mother where they will visit with his grandparents.