Youth Exchange comes full circle

By Jake McMichael, Youth Exchange Program Chair, Wilsonville Rotary

The Wilsonville Rotary Youth Exchange Program has now come full circle, what with the return home of two WHS students, the first of our “Rebound” category. Amanda Weatherly and Biz Harms have been welcomed home this month from a year abroad studying in Slovakia and Austria, respectively. Each will be the program speaker at several Rotary luncheon meetings in September, telling us about their exciting year in a foreign country.  As we welcome home the 12th grade “Rebounds”, we are in the process of interviewing five new 10th grade applicants for both the short and long term exchange programs for the 2018-2019 school years. These WHS students will undergo considerable training by the local Rotary District during their 10th grade year to prepare them for their adventure abroad in the 11th grade.

Bracketed by these two bookends, we have three WHS 11th graders involved in the exchange program this year. Lily Burhop will be departing in late August to Cherepovets, Russia, which is about half way between St. Petersburg and Moscow. She has been in contact with her host family who will meet her in St. Petersburg and drive to her new home where she will be the big sister in a family of younger siblings. There are presently two WHS juniors abroad in South America under the Rotary Short Term Exchange Program (STEP). Lila Durig is spending the entire summer in Argentina, while Sophia Somerscales is in Brazil for the summer.  The STEP is a family-to-family exchange.  The Durigs and the Somerscales will be hosting their “host sisters” from the respective host S.A. families during their summer vacation period in December – February, our winter.

We recently said a tearful goodbye to our long term 2016-2017 inbound student from Switzerland, Anna Knill.  Anna was a Super Senior at WHS who won our hearts with her outgoing and loving personality.  She excelled academically and in sports, being captain of the WHS Girls Swim Team this past year. We are looking forward to the arrival of our new inbound student from Mexico on August 18th (just in time for the eclipse). Samantha Barbara Buholzer Prieto is a dual citizen young lady, whose father emigrated from Switzerland to Mexico. She has been accepted at WHS and will be here for her 11th grade year. We have several host families involved with “Sam”, and we are looking for additional families interesting in hosting Sam for a three month interval.

Involvement in the Youth Exchange Program as a long or short term participant and/or as a host family can be an exceptionally rewarding experience. You should check it out. Contact Jake McMichael at jakemcmichael@centurytel.net, 503-312-9596 Cell, 503-694-2127 Home.

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