Sophia and Samantha: impressive international exchange student leaders

Sophia Sommerscales of Wilsonville High School talked about her experiences as a Rotary Youth Exchange student in Natal, Brazil.

The Youth Exchange program through the Rotary Club of Wilsonville continues to attract amazing young women and men from across the globe, and sends our incredible youth abroad. The Club recently sponsored Sophia Sommerscales who visited Natal, Brazil; and Samantha Barbara Buholzer Prieto who is currently in Wilsonville, visiting from Puebla, Mexico. On Thursday, November 30, both of them spoke to the Rotarians about their international experiences.

Sophia talked about the challenges of learning Portuguese, which was more difficult than she expected, and with her Spanish speaking skills not offering much help. She arrived in Brazil in June and stayed for three months, but wished she could have stayed longer. She loved buggy riding in the dunes and going often to the beautiful beaches. She also played soccer and engaged in a lot school activities, enjoying all of the other students whom she met. Regarding her favorite foods there, anything from her “uncle’s” bakery, sun-dried beef, and seafood dishes. By the time she left, Samantha felt that she was able to understand about 90% of what she heard in Portuguese. Her family will soon welcome Julio, her “brother” in Brazil.

Since her arrival, Samantha has been “embedded” with a few different Wilsonville families, exploring Oregon and engaging in Northwest and American traditions and events. Some of her favorite times so far have been the Oregon Dunes, playing soccer at Wilsonville High School, and learning about traditions like Halloween and Thanksgiving from her two host families so far, Mary and Mark Stewart; and Laura LaJoie and her husband Mike and

Samantha (center front) with her host families and other Rotarians at her welcome breakfast.

their daughters. She has also had a chance to attend Homecoming; go to San Francisco where she biked through the Golden Gate and went to Alcatraz (her favorite trip so far!), and Crater Lake.


Samantha also spoke about the many proud traditions in her culture in Mexico, including Wise Men’s Day, Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo and the Day of the Dead or Ofrendas. Her favorite places in Mexico are The Palace in Mexico City, Cancun, eco-archeological sites such as the pyramids, and the famous Puebla cathedrals. Samantha is also a dog-lover, and a talented artist (drawer).


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