Fernando Portales- Marquez (12), hands out souvenirs he brought in to the give to students who attended his informational meeting to let the students’ get to know about his life and hobbies.

From Mexico to Mercersburg: Get to Know About Our Exchange Student Fernando

November 24, 2017

From the city of Leon Mexico, to the little rural community of Mercersburg, Fernando

Portales- Marquez (12), sees first hand the similarities and differences between the two.


Portales- Marquez once being part of the Washington County School District, has recently moved with a host family living in the area. He has been welcomed by the Foreign Exchange Club, as well as many other students.


“ I am very timid at first,” Portales- Marquez said. “Only at first, then I’m fine.”


Being welcomed by Amy and Mike Hicks and student Patrick Hicks (10), they opened their house for Portales- Marquez to be educated on the culture and how people do things in Pennsylvania.


“He’s very sweet and is always trying to help out around the house, which makes things a lot easier,” Hicks said.


The Hicks go see movies and enjoy family time together to show how an American family interacts.  On Sunday, Nov. 6 the whole family went and supported Patrick at the USBands championships.


“They are very good with me.” Portales- Marquez said about his new host family.


Even though Portales- Marquez is a new addition to the family, they now consider him as being a big part.


“He’s like a foreign brother, because I haven’t known him for long, but we are always around each other,” said Hicks.


Just in the short time Portales- Marquez has been living with the family, Mr. Hicks has gotten him interested in maybe being part of the JBHS Wrestling team this winter, and it only took a wrestling video he showed to Portales- Marquez to get him interested.


Along with the aspirations of being on the wrestling team, Portales- Marquez also has hobbies he likes to do in his free time. “Bicycling with friends,” was one of his favorite activities to do back in his home town. Portales- Marquez is also a big fan of video games, texting, and playing soccer.


“I like to do soccer,” said Portales- Marquez “I played at my old school, North High, in Hagerstown.”

Ferando Portales- Marquez (12), hands out “business cards,” with his information and Snapchat username.

His hopes for the future include going into the business field. With taking the Marketing class provided at James Buchanan, he will learn the requirements and qualities he will have to possess to have a future in this certain field.


As far as school goes, his favorite academic course is History because he likes to learn how things happen and why.


Some may think, how could he do it? How could he stand to be away from his family for this long? Well, with a strong support system, Portales- Marquez always has his parents behind him in the decisions he makes.


“I love my mom: she always helps and supports me,” said Portales- Marquez.


Owners of a shoe factory in Mexico, his parents thought it was important for Fernando to come to the States and take the opportunities presented.


“To know English is very important, so I want to learn the language and become more independent,” said Portales- Marquez.


Portales- Marquez says he can cure his homesickness with a phone call home to his parents and two stepsisters every once and a while.


Both Portales- Marquez and the Hicks family have the desire to show him around the country, what makes our country unique, and make sure he enjoys the time here.


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