By Kay Knox
While clubs with a larger membership are able to support an exchange student every year, Clearwater Rotary sends and receives one every second year. Although none are here or away in another country right now, the process of selecting a representative has already begun.
Just one Clearwater student applied in September and Vienna Wadlegger has now successfully negotiated more “hoops”. Following her interview and acceptance here, Vienna had lots of work to complete before stage two of the selection process occurred.
This included both paperwork and going online to learn about what is involved in being an exchange student – the rules, being an ambassador for her community, province, Canada, and of course, Clearwater Rotary which is part of Rotary International. Essays had to be written about these topics, family, and more, along with having letters from the school, her doctor and dentist.
Vienna, along with three other students from School District 73, then continued the interview process in Kamloops. The first part of their interview included parents and students together, and then the student on his or her own. It’s a really big deal because these kids have the responsibility of representing Canada, and they must also be mature enough to be away from parents for a full year, without them visiting.
Read More: Update from the Clearwater Rotary Club
Exchange students need to be open to living and learning in a different culture, usually with a new language. Just as we ask the exchange students who come here about their countries, Vienna will be responding to many questions about her home and the local Rotary Club.
At the conclusion of the interviews in Kamloops, three of our school district’s four potential exchange students were accepted; happily, Vienna was one of them.
Next, Vienna had to select three countries from a lengthy list. “Switzerland will be my first choice,” she told me in October, naming several more European countries as other possibilities.
At the Rotary Christmas evening in December, Vienna could barely wait to make her announcement: “I was given my first preference; I am off to Switzerland in 2020! Closer to the time I leave in the late summer, I will find out which part of that country will be my home for a year. During the upcoming months, I need to start learning a new language. As well, I must find out more about where I live, including how Canada’s political system operates.”
It’s very exciting for a teenager to have this opportunity, and, like all our previous exchange students, Vienna will make a great ambassador for Clearwater.