(Authors Note: Here is Part II of our tribute to Internationalism and Brazil, home of this year’s World Cup, next year’s Rotary International Conference, and as you will see, home to Rotary Exchange student, Gabi Rodrigues.)
The Rotarians that host youth exchange students always say it’s easy. Apparently a vibrant, enthusiastic, and motivated teen moves into your home for several months where everything you say is a pearl of wisdom to them. In this vision of communicating our many worldly experiences, the teen from a foreign land sits with rapt attention and soaks up the vibrant dinner table conversation that occurs nightly at your home. They listen to every word, eager to learn the secrets of being an American, from you, the expert on the subject.
My problem with this is that my own experience in dealing with teens is somewhat different. As I recall, my own teenagers communicated with monosyllabic grunts and rarely spoke more than two or three words at a time. The longest sentence that I remember was, “I’ll be back later.” Or maybe it was, “I’ll do my homework later.” Either way it had something to do with “later.” I don’t recall making eye contact with either of my kids from the ages of 15 to 17. And, the dinner table conversation around here is not likely to be about world peace. So my fear of hosting a youth exchange student has nothing to do with them, and everything to do with the fact that in my experience, teens are not overly interested in what I have to say. And the thought of hosting one that is so clearly more mature than I am is, frankly, intimidating.
However, having met Gabby Rodrigues, I am reconsidering. What an absolutely delightful young lady. (Thanks to DGE, Bill Fine, who provided us with the following introduction)
Gabriela Vitoria Rodrigues Pereira (Gabi) is a 17 year old Rotary Exchange Student from Avare, Brazil. Gabi attended and graduated from Broadneck High School in Arnold, MD. Gabi was one of 600 applicants for 25 exchange slots from Brazil last year. She finished the several months of testing and interviews # 6 out of 600 and was thrilled to be able to select the US as her destination.
Gabi is the first Rotary Exchange Student to actually graduate and earn a Maryland International Certificate. This is no small feat considering her English was not great when she arrived last August and had to take Senior English to get her certificate. Gabi attained the highest grade in her senior English class.
In Avare, Gabi volunteers in two different nursing homes, helping the elderly. She also taught a class of 25 students Biology, Physics, and other subjects in an after school tutoring session. She is an amazing well-rounded young lady with a true heart for service. She attends her home Rotary club of Itai on a regular basis when home and is dedicating her life to helping others. She will undoubtedly go far in Rotary and in life.
Her three host families live in Arnold and all who met her have had their lives enriched.
Much more on Rotary Youth Exchange in future RFA’s. If you didn’t get to meet Abby and her fellow exchange student from Argentina, Gabriel Garcia, this time around, hopefully you can host one yourself in the future.
Thank you, Bill. And thank you, Gabi. I close with Gabi’s completely unsolicited promo for RFA. She is/was terrific!
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