Marvelous Marvin

Marvin Fierz is a new junior from Switzerland


Photo: Alexa Carlisle

Marvin Fierz works hard during warm ups before a ultimate game. Fierz is new to the sport but according to his coach, Emily Zukowski, he picked it up very quickly. “In the first two weeks he demonstrated great grit and athletic intelligence,” Zukowski said.

While University Prep sends many students on semesters away, since the beginning of the pandemic, it is rare that the school gets a visitor in return.

However this semester, Marvin Fierz is part of the junior class as an exchange student from Switzerland. And while Fierz may not have known anyone personally in the United States, his dad had a few connections, one of which was UPrep senior Henry Curran’s mother. He now lives with the Currans and despite only seeing them once a summer before moving, Fierz feels quite comfortable in his new home.

“It’s kind of like staying at a friend’s house,” Fierz said.

Henry Curran agrees with Fierz, feeling close to his new housemate already.

“It’s been a lot of fun having another kid in my house,” Curran said. “It’s like having another brother.”

In Switzerland, Fierz started learning English in school, inspiring an interest in practicing his fluency. He continues to learn through hearing English in media.

“My vocabulary comes mostly from watching series and YouTube videos in English,” Fierz said. “So I have been doing that for three years now and I understand almost everything.”

Curran still notices Fierz sometimes struggling during English class with writing in a different language but is always happy to help out. In turn, Fierz often helps Curran out with their science class.

“He’s really good at chemistry and science stuff,” Curran said. “Because we’re in the same class, he’s really helpful with homework.”

Fierz’s ability to speak English and keep up in school has made the transition to life here pretty easy. Part of this has also been because of Uprep’s welcoming attitude towards him.

“I’m always asked, ‘Are you from Switzerland?’ and other questions,” Fierz said. “It’s way more open. I think that wouldn’t happen so much in Switzerland.”

Fierz also believes that UPrep’s school format contributes to how easy joining the school is.

“It’s more community-based,” Fierz said about UPrep. “In Switzerland, we like we never have advisory, we never have Assembly, and the classes are bigger.”

Along with Fierz getting to know people through smaller classes, school sports have also contributed to the easy transition. Even though Fierz never played before, he decided to join the ultimate team.

“So in my old school, there’s no such thing as a school sports team,” Marvin said. “It’s just PE and then sometimes the classes play against each other from the same grade but no school does.”

This has made the experience on the ultimate team even more unique and something Fierz is going to miss when he goes back. Fierz’s coach, Emily Zukowski has seen Fierz’s new ultimate frisbee experience in action.

“Marvin went from zero experience to making the varsity team,” Zukowski said.

“He wants to learn and improve and it’s obvious he’s having fun.”

Zukowski has also seen Fierz making connections with other players.

“He always celebrates with a smile and a high five to his teammates,” Zukowski said. “I love how exchange students enhance the program.”

Fierz is really glad he got to go on a semester away and come to Uprep and thinks it has helped him develop skills he’ll use in the future.

“I think this experience will help me approach future situations and challenges more easily and with more confidence.”