Abby Todd

Thailand

Hometown: Port Orange, Florida
School: Spruce Creek High School
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Port Orange South Daytona, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


(Hello) I am 14 years old going to Spruce Creek High School studying in the IB program. I am really looking forward to spending my sophomore year in Thailand! Traveling and learning new things have always been an interest of mine and to have this opportunity to expand my knowledge and experience more is amazing. In my free time I like to learn phrases in different languages. I am in the interact club, volunteering club, and I’m going to be participating in the girl's flag football team at my school. I enjoy challenging myself with new obstacles and showing my creativity in my art and music. I am looking forward to learning, connecting, and experiencing Thailand on my exchange with Rotary while also having the ability to show others about my life in the US. I am excited to try new amazing food because I LOVE food! I will have so many new opportunities I have been looking forward to doing in my life including the possibilities of hiking in the mountains and visiting Buddhist temples that I would never be able to do if I was not given this opportunity of a life time. I can’t wait to see where this opportunity takes me in the future.

Abby Sanders

France

Hometown: Havana, Florida
School: Lawton Chiles
Sponsor District : District 6940
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of , Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Salut! It has always been my dream to travel and explore the world, and now with the help of the Rotary, I'm doing just that! I recently moved back to Florida after six years in West Virgina, but I was born in Toledo, Ohio. Now, I live in Havana with my mother and step-father and four cats! At school I'm a member of the Chiles Model United Nations, Chiles Speech and Debate club, and Chiles French Club. I also am a member of a local Shakespeare troupe in Tallahassee. I put most of my focus on school and academics, but I also love reading and enjoy writing in my spare time. I also volunteer with the Gadsden County Humane society and help after school on Wednesdays with a theatre class for children. Like I said, it has always been a dream of mine to travel and explore, so that is one of the most exciting aspects of becoming an exchange student. Additionally, I love the idea of becoming a muliticultural citizen. I've been studying French on my own for the past four years, as my previous school in West Virginia didn't offer it. The opportunity to achieve complete fluency in French is thrilling. With my upcoming exchange year I hope to form new, life-long connections with my fellow outbound students and host families.

Abriani Thompson

Thailand

Hometown: Palm Harbor, Florida
School: St. Pete Collegiate
Sponsor District : District 6950
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of , Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


I am currently a senior at St. Pete Collegiate High School. I enjoy science, art, and psychology. These classes interest me because I've always loved painting and creating things that have meaning to me. Science and psychology allow you to learn about the way things function and why they function that way, and I think they're very interesting. My family consists for my mother, father, younger brother, older brother, and older sister. My father is from West Virginia and his family moved to Florida when he was around the age of 2. The rest of my family is from Florida. I enjoy drawing and painting in my spare time or learning new things. Having the opportunity to be an exchange student is a life changing experience. I want to be an exchange student to be able to learn about other countries and open my mind up. I think people from everywhere around the world have misconceptions about other countries. Having the opportunity to go to a different country and learn the language and their culture can help to clear up those misunderstandings. I also think travelling to a different country can open your mind because you have no choice but to be exposed to things you may not be accustomed to or understand, and you have to try to look at it from their point of view and try to understand it, which can make you begin to think differently about the things around you. I'm so glad I get the chance to go on exchange and have this experience!

Alfa Solis

Taiwan

Hometown: Coral Springs, Florida
School: Pompano Beach Institute Of International Studies
Sponsor District : District 6990
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Davie- Cooper City, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


I grew up in a immigrant family that came from Mexico. My parents have always been dreamers but behind those dreams there is drive. My parents are both hardworking and head strong, and I'm grateful for that. Knowing where my parents have come from and how hard it's been for them, it can be incredibly difficult to ask for things. Asking for something as simple as shoes makes me feel guilty. Since I struggle with dealing with my emotions my body has taken it upon itself to physically manifest what I feel. When i found out about R.Y.E my chest started to burn and an intense heat began to form. I knew my body was telling me "I want this." So, I asked. I convinced my parents and got a job to save up. I know my parents would've paid the entire cost, but I wanted to show them I was serious about this.  I like to try a lot of things so my hobbies can vary but the hobby I've stuck with the most is art. I really enjoy painting on clothes and and shoes. It's fun to try and reflect a person's personality in something they can wear. I just enjoy colors, patterns, and just visual effects so appealing.  I'm excited for what this experience has in store for me and in a way I'm hoping maybe I'll be able to understand myself as an individual.

Amanda Hertz

Brazil

Hometown: St. Augustine, Florida
School: Pedro Menendez
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of St. Augustine beach, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


My name is Amanda Hertz and I will be going on exchange to Brazil next school year! I am so excited to be a part of the Rotary Youth Exchange. I am a currently a freshman at Pedro Menendez High School in St. Augustine Florida, my hometown. I live with my mom, dad, two brothers and two dogs. When I am not in school, I love spending time with my friends and family. We enjoy going to the pool, walking around historic downtown and hanging out at the beach. I play forward on my school’s soccer team and have been playing soccer since I was 3 years old. I am also in a program at school for future medical professionals. I am so excited to be living in Brazil and learning Portuguese for next school year! I am most looking forward to meeting my host families and making new friends from around the world. I also cannot wait to try new foods, learn about another culture, and explore new places. Since I have found out that I am going the Brazil, I have been researching information about the culture and talking to people from St. Augustine who have gone to Brazil on exchange. I cannot wait for what the next year has in store for me! 

Andrew Suarez

Finland

Hometown: Oakland Park, Florida
School: Pompano Beach
Sponsor District : District 6990
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico, at one point lived in Houston for 4 months, and I moved here from Mexico in 2012. Since then, I have had the opportunity to grow and mature as a person and have made some amazing friends along the way. I try to make plans with my friends as much as possible, and we all really like to go out somewhere and just hang out. Since soccer is such a big sport in Mexico, it has always been a part of my life. I also discovered I liked playing tennis when I lived in Houston, and got into playing guitar 3 years ago. Even since I lived in Mexico, I have always liked my science and social studies classes. I hope to one day study something in the fields of biology or anthropology, although I am not sure what yet. Studying abroad, especially for college, has always been an option for me, and I hope to finish my college degree, or degrees, somewhere in Europe. This is partly because I have always loved traveling and dreamed of touring the world, most likely due to my sister and my dad, who have both traveled extensively. My sister lives in Mexico (she was also born in Guadalajara) and visits my parents and I almost every year. The years when she doesn’t come to Florida, I usually visit her in Cancun, Mexico.

Annemarie Johnson

Brazil

Hometown: Deerfield Beach, Florida
School: Pompano Beach High School
Sponsor District : District 6990
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of , Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Hi! my name is Annemarie and I am so excited to spend my 2020-2021 school year in Brazil. I live at home with my mom Janine and my two cats Lola and Bella I also have an older sister Haley in college. I currently go to Pompano Beach High School and I am a sophomore. On my free time, I love to go shopping and hang at the beach with my friends. I am going to miss my friends and family very much but they are all extremely supportive and know this is an amazing opportunity. I have always loved to travel and experience different cultures and traditions. During my exchange I hope to perfect my Portuguese, grow as a person and get close with my host families, so being able to live in Brazil for almost a whole year is a dream come true. I also want to be able to take home new traditions I can show to others and maybe start in my family. I am extremely grateful to be chosen for this amazing opportunity through the Rotary club, and I'm looking forward to all the new great things I will learn and making life long memories.

Audrey Hagberg

Spain

Hometown: Decatur, Georgia
School: Decatur
Sponsor District : District 6900
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Decatur, Georgia
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


¡Hola! I’m so excited to live in Spain for my junior year of highschool! I was born in Atlanta and have lived in the same house, in the same town near Atlanta, basically my whole life. The closest I’ve come to leaving the U.S. before now was a week-long trip to Puerto Rico back in 2014, but Puerto Rico is technically a U.S. territory so I didn’t really leave the country. Despite these factors keeping me close to home, I’ve found myself being drawn towards things that are different from what I know and what I am used to. (I’ll admit that I used to be a pretty picky eater, but I’ve been pushing myself out of comfort zone to try other foods.) I live with my mom, dad, older brother, and dog. I played soccer for many years, but I didn’t continue it during high school and ended up joining the school color guard team with a few of my closest friends. Although my favorite subject is math, I’ve been called a bookworm since I was little, and I’m looking forward to exploring Spanish literature. I also love listening to music and I carry earbuds with me wherever I go. Recently, I’ve been expanding my library to include music from other countries. I’m so looking forward to discovering Spain’s music, art, food, and everything else the beautiful country has to offer! I’d like to thank everyone who helped me to get to where I am, on this amazing journey that I know will be a big part of the rest of my life. To the Rotary Youth Exchange organization, my family, and my friends, thank you!

Brody Vaughn

Japan

Hometown: Hernando, Florida
School: Citrus
Sponsor District : District 6950
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Crystal River, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


こんにちは! My name is Brody Vaughn, I go to Citrus High School and I am being sponsored by the Rotary club of Crystal River. I have been gifted with the amazing and wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Japan for an entire year and my excitement can not be put into words. In Florida, I am a sophomore in the Academy of Computer Science at Citrus High School where I study web design and a specific coding language named Python along with many other computer science ventures to come. When I am not at school I'm either learning as much as I can about film or Japanese. I absolutely love both of these things. One Saturday a month, I have the opportunity to study film production at Florida Film Academy. In this class we are allowed hands on experience with real film equipment such as cameras, microphones, etc to use and created a short film. Every Monday and Thursday I have lessons where I am tutored how to read and write the Japanese language. I have wanted to be an exchange student for quite some time. I really enjoy going around the world, meeting new people, and exchanging new experiences with people I would normally have never met. I can not wait to experience a brand new culture and learn as much as I can about the community in Japan. Thank you RYE for this amazing opportunity to travel and study in Japan.

Caroline Weintraub

Brazil

Hometown: St Petersburg, Florida
School: St. Petersburg
Sponsor District : District 6950
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of St. Petersburg West, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


I am so excited to start my next chapter as an exchange student. I hope to grow as a person and better understand another culture.   I am currently a student at St. Petersburg High School in Florida where I am involved in heaps of community activities. I’m a leader in our Feminist Club and am a Civic Engagement Fellow with the League of Women Voters and am developing and executing a program designed to improve voter registration and participation among my fellow 18-year-olds. Additionally, during every summer break in high school, I have served as a junior counselor/mentor at Camp Horseshoe, a camp in West Virginia serving children from low-socio economic situations, including many from foster care.  I enjoy participating in sports, particularly golf and track. I also enjoy playing soccer and tennis on occasion. You might think that as a Florida girl, I am exclusively a beachcomber, but that is not the case. My family moved from the mountains of West Virginia only four years ago, so I also know the special beauty of a 4-season year. I love snowboarding and sledding and all the rest that comes with a snowy environment.  My interest in international travel may have started when my family voyaged to pick me up from China when I was 14 months old. I was a toddler who had been living in the Shanghai Children’s Home when my parents adopted me. We’ve made return trips to China, where I’ve been able to participate in summer language and culture educational experiences. These trips have been tremendous for me gain understanding of my world and where I, as a Chinese person adopted into a Caucasian family, fit.

Chayce Canty

France

Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
School: Druid Hills
Sponsor District : District 6900
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Decatur, Georgia
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Salut! Je m'appelle Chayce et j’ai hâte d’aller en France pour mon année 2020-2021 à l'étranger avec le Rotary! Hi! My name is Chayce and I am very excited to live in France for my 2020-2021 year abroad with Rotary! I live with my parents and my older brother. I live in the heart of Atlanta and am currently a sophomore at Druid Hills High School. I am a very involved member in my school and community, as I am a member of my school's Key Club, Beta Club, Spanish and French Clubs, I am also president of my class and Student Government Association. I also volunteer and play lacrosse and soccer. A major reason that I decided to go on exchange is my want to learn and understand. I’d learn about the lives of others, and how their lives are similar to my life at home and how they may be different. This opportunity would allow me to gain perspective and awareness on life in general, as there are so many things that I can only learn when stepping outside of my bubble and extending my reach. I also want to help people, I want to be able to unite communities and be a person who helps the world progress. When I'm older I plan on being a UN ambassador and somehow being a small change in the world, and I know that with this opportunity that I can. Thank you so much Rotary for helping me begin to achieve my goals! Adieu!

Eleni Sullivan

Netherlands

Hometown: Saint Petersburg, Florida
School: Saint Petersburg Collegiate
Sponsor District : District 6950
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Saint Petersburg West, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Hallo! My name is Eleni, and I was adopted from China. I am the oldest of two and have the best parents I could have ever asked for. I am currently a senior at St. Pete Collegiate HS. Likewise, this is like a gap year for me. At school, I am part of Ethics in Action, Interact, and National Honor Society. Outside of school, I enjoy music and photography. Fun Fact: the Netherlands is home to the world’s tallest people, and I am only 4 feet and 10½ inches—the half is important! 
  I am excited to go to the Netherlands because it has been recently reported that they have become the first country in the world without stray dogs. As an avid dog lover, I could not be more thrilled! It is also home to the Anne Frank House, which is where she hid during World War II. As a recipient of the Anne Frank Humanitarian Award, I already feel connected! I am also a major human rights activist. The Netherlands was the first country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage and is known for being one of the most LGBTQ+ friendly countries in the world as well. As an ally, inclusivity and equality are important to me.   As an exchange student, I hope to gain new perspectives and insight on the world because as a humanitarian and an activist it is critical to learn, think, and consider ideas different from my own. I also aspire to become a neurosurgeon, so understanding my patients from a global perspective is imperative.
   My goal is to have no expectations because expectations lead to disappointment, disappointment leads to unhappiness, and unhappiness leads to homesickness. Open mind, open heart my friends. I can’t wait to embark on this new adventure!   Tot Ziens!

Emma Hope

Taiwan

Hometown: St. Johns, Florida
School: Creekside
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Bartram Trail, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


ä½ å¥½! My name is Emma, and for my junior year of high school I’m going to live in Taiwan! Right now, I live with my dad and my brother for most of the year in St. Johns, Florida, and I travel up to visit my mom in Pennsylvania regularly. When I’m not doing schoolwork, I love to spend my time drawing, reading and writing fictional stories! I also use my free time to practice Japanese and American Sign Language. I found out about Rotary through a presentation they did at my school my freshman year, and I knew immediately that I wanted to go on exchange. After a year of dreaming about it, I’m so happy that I’ll be able to participate in this once in a lifetime opportunity! I can’t wait to get started learning more about Taiwan, before I get the privilege of living there! I know this is going to be tough, but I’m ready for the challenges that come along with this. Being able to have the chance to move to another country, learn another language, and assimilate into their culture is a dream come true for me, and I’m so excited for what’s to come!

Emma Brackett

Hungary

Hometown: St. Augustine, Florida
School: Pedro Menendez
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of St. Johns, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Szia, my name is Emma, and I am 14 years old. I live in Florida with my parents, Christy and Bill, my two younger siblings, Sam and Megan, and my grandparents, Jeanne and Joseph. I also have a pet dog, Max. Currently, I attend Pedro Menendez High School as a freshman. At school, I am in the International Baccalaureate program (IB) and the Health Careers Academy. I participate in the Health Occupations Students of America club (HOSA) and guitar club as well. After school, I take piano lessons and ballet and contemporary dance classes. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, listening to music and being with my friends. I am grateful for the opportunity to spend next year in Hungary. I have lived my entire life in Florida and appreciate the opportunity to go somewhere I have never been to before. Last summer, I went abroad for the first time. I visited Norway and London, England. I enjoyed meeting new people and learning about different cultures. I was able to experience new adventures like kayaking at midnight in the Arctic Circle. This trip inspired me to want to live abroad for a longer period of time. I am excited to learn another language as well as try new foods, meet new people and see what adventures Hungary has in store for me.

Grace Harrington

Italy

Hometown: Homosassa, Florida
School: Lecanto
Sponsor District : District 6950
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Kings Bay Crystal River, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Ciao! Hello! My name is Grace and I’ll be spending a year abroad in Italy! I’m currently a sophomore at Lecanto High School. At school, I participate in several clubs such as Culture Club and a Mental Health Awareness Club. Apart from clubs, I am in the rigorous and time-consuming Pre-IB Program. I have a passion for language and culture and hope to acquire some level of fluency in Italian. I already have some experience with other languages like Spanish and Slavic counterparts. At home, I live with my mother, twin brother, and older sister as well as our four cats and dog! Outside of home life and school, I find myself spending my time socialising with friends, reading, cooking, and indulging in my favourite topic - history. I'm quite the history buff when it comes to ancient and medieval history - something I take great pride in. I am more than enthralled to immerse myself in a new culture, try new foods, make longlasting friendships, endure nascent experiences and to learn about the world around me. I can not even begin to explain how grateful and excited I am to spend a chapter of my life in Italy! I anticipate sharing my experiences. Many thanks to Rotary for allowing myself and countless others for such an amazing opportunity that shall follow for a lifetime. Arrivederci!

Hannah Pockett

Finland

Hometown: St Augustine, Florida
School: Allen D. Nease
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach Sunset, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Moi! I’m Hannah and I am so excited to be given the opportunity to go to Finland. I really am excited to see snow again since it’s something you don’t get to see while living in Florida. I really want to learn more about the Finns along with getting to share the beauty that the icy, Nordic country has to offer. I am currently a sophomore and will be spending my junior year of highschool abroad. I know it is going to be a trip that will teach me a lot about myself and truly teach my life skills that I will be able to use in the real world. Learning another language is challenging, but I hope by the time I am finished my exchange I will have a new appreciation for people who are bilingual. I live at home with my two parents, brother, a dog, and a cat. I am interested to see what other pets or animals Finland has to offer. I love art and theatre, which are both things I want to pursue as a career sometime in the future. I participate a lot in theatre at school by auditioning for every show and partaking in theatre classes. I also have an art class I take, plus you can find me drawing on my iPad in my free time. During this exchange I will be able to make some new friends who will hopefully be patient with me as I attempt to learn a new language. I want to share stories and experiences from our home countries with them as well. I am so thankful for the people I have met so far, and cannot wait for the people who will soon enter my life. Näkemiin!

Jason Bushnell

Denmark

Hometown: Saint Augustine, Florida
School: Saint Augustine High School
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Saint Augustine Rotary Club, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Hi my name is Jason Bushnell and I'm currently a Sophomore at Saint Augustine High School. When I'm at school the classes I enjoy most are definitely, Biology, Piano, Comprehensive Law Studies, and Geometry. Outside of school however. My number one favorite thing to do is to hang out with my friends but When with my friends we usually go downtown to just walk around or go to one of the many places to get a bite to eat. If not downtown then were probably at somebody's house. When I'm not with them I'm either on my computer or practicing piano. On longer breaks I really travelling. In the summer of 2016 I went on a trip to Europe and visited Italy, Switzerland, and France. Also in 2017 I went on a road trip all over the United States. I think that this experience with rotary will top the other two by far. I've never been in one place for so long. I'm so excited to learn the language even more than I am right now as well as fully embracing the danish culture, It's going to be so interesting living in another country for an entire year. I can't wait for what next year entails.

Jocelyn Hurst

Taiwan

Hometown: Youngstown, Florida
School: Deane Bozeman
Sponsor District : District 6940
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Rotary Club of Panama City, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


I’m a junior. I come from a very large family and a pretty small community. I stay highly involved in my community and school. When I am not in school, I am devoting my time to community service, the band program, Key Club International, my family, travel, and work. It is very difficult to find free time for myself because I love to be involved. After high school, my dream is to attend Florida State University. My goal is to build a career in early education. I hope to use what I gain from my experience in my future as well as teach diversity and encourage the interest in cultural differences. What I hope to gain and give from this incredible opportunity is a diverse form of education, the ability to build new friendships, and the skill of taking responsibility for myself. I hope to return to the United States with a new vision and international understanding that I can share with my community, friends, and family. Not only do I want to gain experience from this, I have a lot to offer the Rotary Youth Exchange program. What I have learned in my lifetime here in the United States, I would share with my newest friends and families.

Jocelyn Riley

Italy

Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
School: P. K. Yonge
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Gainesville Sunrise, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Ciao! Mi chiamo Jocelyn and I am so excited to spend the 2020 - 2021 school year in Italy. I am currently a freshman at P. K. Yonge and I live in Gainesville, Florida with my mom, Valerie, dad, Brent, little brother, Gage, and cat, Jingle. When I'm not in school, you can find me at the dance studio perfecting my pointe or running the local trails with my cross country team. I'm never one to be isolated or alone, I love staying active and being social. For my whole life, I've lived in Gainesville, gone to P. K. Yonge, and danced at Danscompany of Gainesville. I'm enlivened to shake things up and live outside of my comfort zone for a year. I truly believe that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. My family likes to travel to new places, and I cherish the memories made where I am uncomfortable. New sights, new foods, new languages all excite me. Living in Italy next year seems surreal, but it presents an opportunity to learn Italian and get closer to the country of my maternal ancestors. I am more than ready to embark on this journey of lifelong friendships and memories. I would like to thank Rotary for this opportunity and my friends and family for supporting my decision to go on exchange. Addio!

Joe Cauthen

Czech Republic

Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
School: Buchholz
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Gainesville, Florida, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Ahoj! I will be spending my senior year in Czechia, also known as the Czech Republic. I’m seventeen and in my junior year at Buchholz High School. I currently take 5 AP classes, so studying every night is mandatory for me. On top of that, I have a pretty busy schedule outside of school, ranging from being a part of the debate team and the treasurer of Buchholz’s National Spanish Honors Society, playing lacrosse, and working at Publix (Supermarket chain in the Southeast) on the weekends. Surprisingly, I do have a bit of free time and usually spend it playing basketball, video games with my friends, or spending time with my family. I live with my parents, my younger sister, and my dog, Tess. I’ve only been out of the United States once before, and I’m ecstatic to be able to have the opportunity to go to Czechia for a whole year. I have always been interested in language and culture, especially Spanish and Hispanic traditions, and I’m excited to step up to the challenge of learning Czech. I’m also glad that I will be able to completely immerse myself in a brand new culture and way of life. I’m so happy to have been selected to go to Czechia in 2020-2021, and I am so grateful that the Rotary Youth Exchange has given me such an amazing opportunity.

Jonathan Kopel

Norway

Hometown: Dunwoody, Georgia
School: Dunwoody
Sponsor District : District 6900
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Dunwoody, Georgia
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Hallo! For my gap year between Junior and Senior year, I’ll be traveling abroad to experience Norwegian life. I attend Dunwoody High School in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. The learning aspect of school is the most fun, specifically human anatomy (dissecting an entire rabbit was… an experience) and chemistry. I live with my dad and my lunatic of a dog, Clover (nicknamed Homeslice by my friends. Don’t ask me why). My sister attends college in Kentucky, and my mom lives in Alpharetta. At school, I’m an active assistant captain for the fencing team, and I’m also the president of the Astronomy Club. I recently have joined technical theater, and I’m loving every minute of it (since I love theater but can’t act, it’s a good compromise). Comedy is a crucial part of my life, so I’m part of the Improv Troupe and perform in many of the shows - when a club involves robot babies, you know you’ve done something right. Once I can relax at home, I usually play video games. Civilization V, one of my favorites, is very fitting for the Youth Exchange as you play as one of the many major civilizations in history, working with or against other civilizations to develop an empire. The sciences have always been my favorite, but I love the social studies as well. By being honored as a Rotary, Georgia, and US ambassador, I can now apply what I’ve learned through these classes (Macroeconomics, Human Geography, and World History to name a few). I can see not only how the culture differs, but how the economic, political, and historical aspects of Norwegian life impact the people and the nation. The US has many problems (but what country doesn’t?), and I hope that Norway will offer valuable insight into solving them.

Josiah Castillo

Austria

Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
School: Gainesville
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Gainesville, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Hello my name is Josiah and im very excited to be going to your country as an exchange student this year. Austria was my #1 pick and i am so glad i will be able to spend time in your beautiful culture and people. Becoming an exchange student has been my number one goal ever since I knew what it was and I am so glad it's going to come true. My family is a mix of Colombian culture from my mom’s side and Ecuadorian from my dad’s side, so throughout my life they have given me so much love and food that I can’t imagine what I would have grown up to be without them. I love my parents so much and they are the number one supporters for me becoming an exchange student . I enjoy doing exercise in my free time, but I have tried a lot of different sports while I was a kid so I don't really have a favorite. Apart from sports i love to listen to music, my favorite genre is Latin. Its uptone beatmake makes it so fun to dance but it’s lovely ballads convey so many emotions that it overall just make it such an enjoyment to listen to. During this exchange I want to be part of your day to day life, i'm open to try new experiences and I love food as a whole. I will love to get to meet you all with a big hug.

Key Scales

Germany

Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
School: P.K. Yonge
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Sunrise Rotary, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Hallo! My name is Key. I am fifteen years old. I am very fortunate to be going to Germany, my first country choice. I was chosen as the first alternate, so I was very surprised and excited when I found out that I had been selected to go on exchange at all. I only found out that a spot opened for me on the night of the country reveal ceremony. I first learned about Rotary when a group of Rotex came to my school and did a presentation about Rotary Youth exchange scholarship program. From that moment on, I knew I wanted to go. At the time, I had no idea where I wanted to go. At first, I didn't completely understand the implications that going on an exchange has; all of the preparation and forms to complete, etc., along with the cultural immersion experience that you receive, not to mention all of the lifelong friends and family you will make with your host family and friends at school. The main reason I want to go on exchange is to expand what I know about other cultures. I am super excited to learn all about German culture. My family and I are hosting an exchange student and we are already learning so many things about the difference in American culture and Thai culture. Some more about me. I love to play guitar, ride bikes, play video games, snowboard, and fish. I have lived in Gainesville for my entire life. I have a small family comprising my sister, my mom, my dad, my cat, and now another sister we are hosting from Thailand. They all have mixed feelings about me going away for a year; especially my cat. But more than anything, they are excited and proud.

Kylee Siner

Sweden

Hometown: Homosassa, Florida
School: Lecanto
Sponsor District : District 6950
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Homosassa Springs, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Hej! I am being sponsored by the Rotary Club of Homosassa Springs in District 6950. I wanted to be an exchange student because the experience you get from studying abroad is unmatched from any type of traveling you do independently. I personally have never traveled though, not even out of state! My family normally stayed in Florida for any vacations or outings we had, so that meant hanging out at one of the many beaches around us. I am involved in my school’s Chorus where we sing and dance a very large variety of songs. I am additionally in all AP and honors courses, which can be difficult but for the most part, I enjoy all of the classes I am taking. When I am not in school, I go to church, and am involved in even more music and singing. In my spare time I play the ukulele and learn songs I enjoy listening to. At this point I can play almost anything! I hope that over my exchange I am able to open up to more foods that I otherwise would not have tried as well as broadening my cultural knowledge of other places. I am excited to see what exactly my exchange year has in store for me. Hej dÃ¥!

Leah Smith

Peru

Hometown: Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
School: Ponte Vedra
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Hola! My name is Leah! I am so excited to go to Peru for the 20-21 year and represent district 6970. I currently live in Ponte Vedra with my family and my dog and am a junior at Ponte Vedra High School. I do tech (backstage and set building and painting) for my school’s theater department. We recently put on Sister Act The Musical which was a great success! I work at an amazing creative studio called Board and Brush and I’m also a hostess at a restaurant called Palm Valley Outdoors. When I’m not at school or at work I love to hang out with my friends or family. My friends and I love to go to movies, hang out or go to downtown St. Augustine. My family and I love to watch movies at home or have family game night and play as many games as we can. When I’m not hanging out with friends or family I love to watch documentaries and learn new information. I’m super excited to go to Peru and learn about the rich history and culture. Going on exchange and meeting new people and having a new family will be the experience of a lifetime. I am eternally grateful to Rotary and the opportunity they have given me. Gracias y adiós!!

Leah Exelbirt

Thailand

Hometown: Gainesville, Florida
School: Gainesville
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Gainesville, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


สวัสดี! My name is Leah and I am ecstatic to be spending my junior year of high school in Thailand. I found out about Rotary Youth Exchange when my older sister, Rachel, went to Spain in 2016. Since then, I’ve wanted to join the RYE family. I currently live with my mom, my stepdad, and my little sister in Gainesville, Florida and I am enrolled in the Cambridge program. I love experiencing other cultures and languages to broaden my horizons. My favorite pastime is cooking and creating new recipes. I can’t wait to learn how to make traditional Thai dishes from my host family. I am on the varsity dive team at my school and I love to be outside and in the water. I am an active member of Planet Club, Theatre Club, and Model United Nations. When I am not in school, diving or cooking, I am babysitting and gaining experience in childcare to hopefully become a teacher. I am so thrilled for this opportunity to build friendships, connect with a different culture and learn a new language. I want to thank my sponsor club, my family, my friends and all of the people that have supported me in the exchange process thus far. I am eager to see what this next year holds for me. ลาก่อน!

Liliana Ramirez

Brazil

Hometown: St. Augustine, Florida
School: St. Augustine High School
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of St. Augustine Sunrise, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Olá! I’m Liliana Ramirez, and I’ll be spending the 2020-21 school year in Brazil. What an amazing opportunity I have been presented with. There is a whole world to explore and I am eternally grateful that I get to spend almost a whole revolution around the sun in a place completely different than anything I’ve ever been around. This coming year I look forward to collecting perspectives and hearing thoughts and opinions which I have never heard before — in a completely different language!  I live in St. Augustine Beach and go to St. Augustine High School. My parents, two younger brothers, and puppy Guillermo moved here from Falls Church, Virginia (just 7 miles from DC) in July 2018. Growing up in the city, around so many historical landmarks and museums, my love for learning has always played a part in where I spend my free time. Since moving, I spend most of my time ‘takin’ it easy’ and relaxing by the beach, surfing, and running.   As a long-time girl scout, “Service Above Self” has always been a saying I live by — even before learning about Rotary. Being a part of this organization will only add to my purpose of connecting the world through positivity and growth. I hope this opportunity and my participation in Rotary allow me to experience immense personal growth and be around likeminded individuals who share my passions and want to be a part of changing the world. Hang loose!

Lily Negvesky

Belgium

Hometown: Clearwater, Florida
School: Countryside
Sponsor District : District 6950
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of , Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Bonjour! My name is Lily and this up coming year I will be traveling across the ocean to study abroad in Belgium! I’m currently a sophomore at Countryside High School, which means that I’ll be spending my junior year of highschool abroad. I’ve always been very curious about different languages and cultures, I even take two language courses as school, French and Mandarin Chinese. I’m so excited for the opportunity to better my French speaking skills in Belgium, and possibly even pick up a little Dutch while I’m in Belgium. My time at home is spent with my friends, we usually are off exploring small towns in our area, getting photos, or shopping at malls. When I’m by myself I really love to spend time improving on my writing skills, as well as my photo editing abilities. I’m so excited for the new writing muse that this trip will give me, as well as the new life long friends and adopted family I will gain. Exploring a different culture, language and country with new friends by my side is one of the things that excites me most about this chapter in my life. I’ve already gotten an older sister and an older brother by hosting inbounds through Rotary Youth Exchange and its truly going to be special being on the opposite end as an outbound student in Belgium. À votre santé à ce nouveau voyage! (Cheers to this new journey).

Liza Langstaff

Ecuador

Hometown: Albany, Georgia
School: Sherwood Christian Academy
Sponsor District : District 6900
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Miscogee, Georgia
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


¡Hola! My name is Liza Langstaff. I am currently 16 years old and am very excited, and so thankful for this wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Ecuador! I live in Albany, Georgia, with my parents and my two brothers. I attend Sherwood Christian Academy and am an honors student who participates in many school wide activities. My favorite subject is Chemistry. I love to play volleyball for my school and for a travel club team. When I am not studying, practicing, or volunteering, I enjoy hanging out with friends, taking pictures, listening to music, and exercising. My friends would describe me as outgoing. I love going outside of my comfort zone to get to know others and experiencing something new. I heard about RYE during a RYLA leadership camp I attended this summer. After hearing Michael Parks, my District Youth Exchange Chairman, talk about this wonderful opportunity, I knew I had to do it. I was intrigued by RYE not only because of the experience I’d be gaining, but also the skills I’d be learning. For example: learning how to study a new language efficiently, becoming independent and more responsible. I am so excited to make new friends, try new things, create tons of memories, become bicultural and fluent in Spanish. Although I will miss my friends and family, I can’t wait to spend an amazing year in Ecuador!

Lolly Sayers

Thailand

Hometown: Decatur, Georgia
School: Decatur High School
Sponsor District : District 6900
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Rotary Club of Decatur, Georgia
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Hello, my name is Lolly Sayers, I am 15 years old. Family is a very important part of my life. I am one of three siblings, my sister India is 20 years old and my brother Sheamus is 24 years old. Because my brother is much older than I am, he has been a role model for me growing up, while my sister, who is much closer to me in age, has been more of a best friend. She has influenced me in almost every aspect of life. My parents have always taught me to push myself to be the best version of myself. I grew up in Decatur, Georgia which is a small town near Atlanta. Being in a small town made it so that I could become close with the people around me. Decatur has had a big impact on myself and my family has had a big impact on Decatur. Throughout the year, I spend a lot of time playing lacrosse and hanging out with my friends. I have always wanted to spend time abroad in order to learn more about other cultures and experience new things.This year I hope to learn Thai in the most efficient way possible and build closer relationships with people from all around the world.

Lorelei Fondren

Denmark

Hometown: Tallahassee, Florida
School: Chiles
Sponsor District : District 6940
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of 6940, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Hey! My name is Lorelei Fondren, I am 15 years old and I am thrilled to be apart of Rotary Youth Exchange! For years I have had a deep admiration for the cinematic arts and musical theater. Since before I can remember, my Grandma would take me to the theatre to see touring productions of big name shows. I have always had so much respect for the people in the theatre and cinematic arts worlds, and it always has fascinated me how beautiful certain movies and productions can be. Family is always first for me, they are what supports me in my ups and downs. I live with my Mom, Step Dad, little Brother, my Dog, and my family's three fish. My family has strong European roots, I have heritage in places such as Italy, Ireland, Scotland, Russia, and Germany. My Italian heritage shines through strongest. My Grandma has always kept traditions around by taking me to Boston to see our Italian family and by making family recipes. I am originally from Jacksonville, Florida but I moved to Tallahassee when I was 7. At school I am very active with my school's drama club, in the club we go see local productions together and support one another. I also enjoy taking part in my school's productions as well. I like to hang out with friends on the weekends, watch TV, read books, play with my little brother and my dog, and enjoy good family time in my free time. We like to vacation and my favorites include trips with winter activities such as snowboarding. I have always dreamt of learning new cultures and traveling the world. I hope to learn new cultures and see new sights this year. I cannot wait to meet new people and make everlasting memories!

Luke Paxton

Argentina

Hometown: Ponte Vedra, Florida
School: Allen D. Nease
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


¡Hola! My name is Luke Paxton and I just turned 16 this December. I’m thrilled that Rotary has given me a chance to be an outbound exchange student, and I’m thankful to the Ponte Vedra Rotary Club for sponsoring me. Argentina has chosen me as their next exchange student to represent District 6970, and I already know my exchange is going to be a blast. I currently live with my mother, father, and 2 dogs, as well as my older brother, Jonah, who is currently a freshman at the University of Florida. Jonah was also a Rotary Youth Exchange student to Croatia in 2015-2016. I’m a sophomore at Allen D. Nease High School in Ponte Vedra and I take a guitar class at school. I enjoy spending time with friends and playing guitar, both in and out of school. When I’m not playing guitar, my friends and I hang out at the mall or walk around St. Augustine so long as we don’t have school work. I’m so happy to be spending my Junior year in Argentina, and I’m eager to improve my Spanish, as well as open my eyes to a new culture and experience a whole different world. I also hope to discover a new sense of self and become more confident, much like my brother did when he returned from his exchange. You know what they say: Life is short, and the world is wide. I’d better get started.

Madelyn Grimes

Italy

Hometown: Sandy Springs, Georgia
School: North Springs
Sponsor District : District 6900
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Roswell, Georgia
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Good day and Ciao! I will be a 2020-2021 exchange student in Italy! My mother and father are divorced, and I have an older brother and a family dog. I am a sixteen-year-old rising junior (11th grade) attending North Springs High School (NSHS). My favorite subject in school is history because it is like a long story that gives meaning to our current world. At NSHS I am a member of the Rotary-based Interact Club, the junior varsity soccer team, Young Life Christian Club, and Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. Outside of school I enjoy spending time with friends, reading a good book (fiction and fantasy novels), bike riding, and horseback riding. During my exchange in Italy I am excited about playing soccer in a country passionate about the sport and learning the deep history of Italian horsemanship. My family has supported me throughout this process, and I am very grateful for their support. I wanted to be an exchange student to experience the culture and history of another country and learn a second language. I am looking forward to making new, life-long friends to share new experiences and cultures. I would like to thank Rotary and everyone involved for this amazing life-changing opportunity to study in Italy!

Malia Hallway

Sweden

Hometown: Ponte Vedra, Florida
School: Ponte Vedra
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Hej! My name is Malia Hallway and I'm about to turn 17 years old. I'm beyond grateful that Rotary has provided me with such an amazing opportunity as a future exchange student. I can't even fathom that I'll be spending the next year of my life in Sweden!! I live in Ponte Vedra with my mom, dad, younger sister, dog and cat. I'm a junior graduating early from Ponte Vedra High. At school, I'm the president of the Environmental Club due to my love of nature and environmental sustainability and I'm also a member of the marching band, the Ocean of Sound. During my free time I love to play video games and hang out with my pets and friends. I've always been fascinated with exploring new places and their cultural ties/language. So far, I've taken both Spanish and Chinese in school, with Chinese totally morphing my passion of language learning to a new level. With that being said, I'm super excited to learn Swedish and apply it to my daily life. As a Floridan, I've only seen snow once, so the climate and culture shock will be really big as I'm exposed to Sweden's different way of life. However, I hope to gain more independence from those hardships and meet friends along the way! Thank you again Rotary, let the journey begin! Hej då!!! :)

Mary Beth Garrison

France

Hometown: Fleming Island, Florida
School: St. Johns Country Day
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Fleming Island, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Salut mes amis! I’m Mary Beth, and for the 20-21 school year I will be living in France! I am super excited about this, as I have been taking serious French lessons since 8th grade. I am currently a sophomore in high school, and I am involved in Young Life, I am on the swim team, and I am a member of my school’s student council. In school, my favorite subjects are Seminar (a class about research), English, French, and Latin. During my exchange year, I am hoping to learn more about French politics and their government. I want to do this because in the future I hope to become a lawyer or politician, and being able to see different governments in action will increase my global awareness of issues not only plaguing America, but the world at large. I also am excited to learn more about the Rotary organization and hopefully become more involved in my club back home. I wanted to be an exchange student because, ever since I was little, I have been interested in different cultures and traveling the world. I am also really excited to try all of the French cuisine and eat some amazing French bread. I can’t believe that I will be learning about France’s culture in the best classroom possible, the country itself!!

Maya Wei

Denmark

Hometown: Tamarac, Florida
School: Pompano Beach High School
Sponsor District : District 6990
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Coral Springs Rotary Club, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Hej! My name is Maya Wei, I am 17 years old, and I am really excited to be in this program, where I'm going to learn so much. I play the violin, I've been playing for about 5 years or so. I am in a organization called Gold Coast Youth Orchestra. I've been with them for about three years. They have taught me so much about becoming a better player and they are always pushing me to do better. At school, I'm in Key Club. Humane Society Club, National English, and Tea and Craft Club. Tea and Craft is my favorite club because we make bracelets and we crochet. Currently in my household it consist of my mother and myself. My old sister recently just moved to Tallahassee for school. I have a younger sister who is in elementary school. My mother and sister are my #1 supporters. They are always pushing me to do better because they know I can. My family is from China. My parents speak fluent Mandarin and Cantonese. I can speak mandarin and I can mostly listen to Cantonese and translate it into English. I love being Chinese. I love their food and tv dramas. I love being diverse with different cultures. I grew up with many cultures in my live so I am very excited be in a new culture where I can learn and spread that culture with my family and friends.

Meagan Pan

Croatia

Hometown: Ponte Vedra, Florida
School: Ponte Vedra
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Bok! Zovem se Meagan. -Hi! My name is Meagan… and I have to say that I have never been as excited for anything as I am to go to Croatia. To everyone who has helped me make this happen and supported me along the way, from my family, to Bia, the inbound from Hungary that led me through the interviews, to my Rotary Club, to the whole organization of Rotary - hvala (thank you.) Taking AP World last year was what got me really interested in everything about the world in general, whether it be languages, culture, or of course, history. I love learning about history and I’m thinking about being a history teacher when I’m older. I am a part of my school’s Interact Club, Model UN, and International Club. I also enjoy playing videogames, going to the pool, playing badminton, and doing pretty much anything with my sister. My family moved to Nocatee last year from Ohio so we could be closer to family (our cousins and grandparents on my mom’s side live in Florida). I live with my mom and my younger sister and I’m lucky to have them as my family. My sister is a very talented artist who’s also my best friend and the funniest person I know. My mom is an engineer who has always supported my dreams and I can’t thank her enough for letting me go on exchange. My family is a huge part of my life and I can’t wait to meet my host families in Croatia. While I’m on exchange, I hope to find out more about who I am, become fluent in Croatian, and simply experience everyday life in a country 5,000 miles away. I can’t wait to tell you all about my life in Hrvatska! (aka Croatia) DoviÄ‘enja!

Nathan Konuch

Spain

Hometown: Tallahassee, Florida
School: Leon High School
Sponsor District : District 6940
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of , Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


¡Hola! I currently attend Leon High School in Tallahassee, the capital of Florida. It’s also the oldest public high school in the state of Florida, established in 1871! I’ve traveled all over the United States, as well as China, where I spent three weeks with my family to adopt my sister when I was in first grade. Visiting China for three weeks helped me see the world through a different perspective, and it also gave me a love for traveling. I live with my mother, brother and sister; but my father, who lives in Atlanta, I see often as well. I also have three pets, a black cat and two big furry dogs who love to bark and play with each other. I love singing, drawing, acting, doing sports and creating videos on YouTube. I’m also on a rock-climbing team! I love learning about different cultures and because of this, I am absolutely elated to venture off to Spain through Rotary Exchange. I think it would be awesome to learn a new language, explore the country and make new friends. I am so happy and grateful to have this opportunity, and I’m sure it will be an experience I will never forget. ¡Hasta Luego!

Parker Condon

Argentina

Hometown: Decatur, Georgia
School: Decatur
Sponsor District : District 6900
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Decatur, Georgia
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


¡Hola! I'm Parker and I'm so excited to spend my Junior year in Argentina! I am currently a sophomore at Decatur High. I live with my parents and my two siblings. I am very passionate about the arts which is why I am a member of my schools concert band as well as a member of a tap dance company. On top of that I enjoy visual arts such as painting and drawing, this is why I am so excited to explore all types of art that Argentina has to offer! Growing up in a smallish town you develop a sort of routine, one that you grow used to. But I feel that life is meant for you to be uncomfortable which is why I want to study abroad. Going out of your comfort zone makes you develop as a person, for this I am so ready to take on the challenges of exchange knowing every high and every low will add up to making me a better version of myself. I am so grateful to both my family and the Rotary Youth Exchange program for providing me with this amazing opportunity to go out of my comfort zone and embark on this new adventure!

Penelope Abellera

Slovakia

Hometown: Dunwoody, Georgia
School: Dunwoody
Sponsor District : District 6900
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Dunwoody, Georgia
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Ahoj! My name is Penelope Abellera. I am currently 17 years old and a senior at Dunwoody High School, and i’ll be spending next year in Slovakia! I’m taking a gap year, and then I’ll be headed to college when I return. I was born and raised in the Atlanta area. My family consists of my mom, my stepdad, my little brother (8th grade), who I live with, and my dad, who also lives in Atlanta. At school, my favorite subject is social studies, especially history. I like to be involved at school; I am on the varsity cheerleading and gymnastics teams and an officer of Student Government Association, the president of Beta Club, and a member of various other clubs. When I’m not doing these, I love to hang out with friends, whether we are going to a concert, exploring Atlanta and North Georgia, or just hanging out. I also love to read a good book when I get the chance! On top of all the amazing adventures I’m sure to have in beautiful Slovakia, I also look forward to learning more about myself and growing as a person. I am beyond excited to immerse myself in a new culture and meet amazing people from around the world. Taking a gap year and going on exchange has been a dream of mine for a while now, and it’s incredible that I’m finally getting to do it! I am so grateful to have such an amazing and life-changing opportunity. Dovidenia!

River Frazier

Germany

Hometown: Tallahassee, Florida
School: Leon
Sponsor District : District 6940
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of , Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


I live in the middle of my state’s capital city where I’m exposed to a large number of diverse people and ideas. I live with my two younger siblings and my parents. I’m used to a fairly independent lifestyle where I’m responsible for myself and occasionally others with my parents providing for me and the things I want to do without any strict rules to follow. This has given me the opportunity to develop good self-regulation habits and general responsibility for my actions. Any undertaking I’ve made, including the exchange, is of my own accord, I’m just lucky enough to have supportive parents who go along with my choices. I attend one of the biggest and oldest schools in my state with over a thousand other students. This large number of people provides for a subsequent diverse range of school activities available for me to participate in. I enjoy color guard, theater (backstage work only), and a wide variety of clubs alongside various other out-of-school volunteer activities. Any other free time I have is spent watching videos and hanging out with friends. I also hope to pursue a career in film production. My dream college offers one of the best film programs in the US and is quite literally right down the street from me. This is actually a large reason why I wanted to participate in the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. I’ll be turning 18 during my exchange and the plan is to come back home afterward to the same place I grew up. I would hate to spend the first 25 years of my life in the same place and am very excited for the opportunity to see more of the world and experience a whole new language and culture separate from what I’ve grown up with.

Sananda Thomas

Brazil

Hometown: Tallahassee, Florida
School: Rickards
Sponsor District : District 6940
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of , Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Olá! Meu nome é Sananda. Hello! My name is Sananda Thomas. I’m 15 and currently a sophomore at James S. Rickards High School. My favorite subjects are AP English and Art. I live with my dad in Tallahassee, Florida. Next year I’ll be living and going to school in Brazil. I’m very excited/nervous. Everyday I’m trying to learn the language. It’s not too hard; similar to Spanish which I’ve been studying for three years.  In my spare time I enjoy reading, spending time with my friends, and watching shows on Netflix. I play tennis with Venom Foundation on FAMU campus and plan on playing for my school. I am a part of Pearls of Perfection which is an organization that is about sisterhood and helping the community. I’m in Model UN and volunteer with the Key Club often.  I’m happy that I’m going to Brazil even though it wasn’t my first pick. Their culture is greatly influenced by Africa which I find interesting. There is even a country in Africa, named Angola which official language is Portuguese! I can’t wait to be fluent in the language. I’ve had the privilege to travel to many different states in the U.S. and the Bahamas, but I still haven’t been on a plane or in the Southern Hemisphere. I hope to gain a new sense of perspective while abroad and experience different food, holidays and people.

Soulyda Pen

Korea

Hometown: Palm Coast, Florida
School: Flagler Palm Coast
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Flagler County, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


안녕하세요! My name is Soulyda Pen and I’m a senior at Flagler Palm Coast High School. To introduce myself, I’m Khmer-American so I’m quite familiar with Southeast Asian culture. Since my parents are immigrants from Cambodia, to some degree, I understand what it means to be “foreign”. However, this provided better insight into other cultures besides the stereotypical American culture. I have a wonderful relationship with my parents and little brothers due to ingrained traditions (like a family dinner every night) that force us to be together almost every day. While sometimes I feel that I’m being driven insane, my family is incredibly precious and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.  For my school activities, I’m an International Baccalaureate scholar and a dual-enrolled student with the University of Florida. I participate in several clubs like Model United Nations, Future Problem Solvers, and Interact. I am actually the secretary of Interact! I actively seek community service opportunities whenever I can because I really enjoy the feeling that comes with serving others.  During my spare time, I enjoy making art and listening to music. K-pop is a genre of music I listen to often so I’m really glad to be heading to the origin country! Some of my favorite music artists are Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Seventeen, Michael Bublé… The list can go on and on.  I was considering taking a gap year before heading to college so being an exchange student served as the perfect gap year opportunity! Through exchange, I hope to expand my knowledge of the world. As an exchange student in an increasingly globalized world, I can act as a bridge between cultures. Rotary’s mission of fostering world peace through Rotary Youth Exchange is something that I am beyond excited to be a part of.

Stana Smith

Slovakia

Hometown: St. Augustine, Florida
School: St. Augustine
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of St. Augustine, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Ahoj! My name is Stana Smith and I will be living in the beautiful country of Slovakia for a year! I am currently 16 and attend St. Augustine High School. I live in St. Augustine, FL, with my parents, brothers, dogs and cats, just as I have my entire life. I am very involved in music - at school and outside of school. I am in the Chorus and Musical Theater academies and outside of school I pursue singing through lessons and events. In my free time, I like to read, watch movies, sing, draw, paint, and hang out with my friends. I am very exited to go on this adventure for a year, not only for the experiences I will have, but also for all the life skills I will learn. My goals on exchange are: become fluent in Slovak, make new friends, be involved in clubs, try at least 1 new thing everyday, and absorb as much as I can. I truly do believe in the idea: If every teenager went on exchange, there would be world peace and understanding. If you had told freshman me that in a year her dreams of going on exchange would be coming true, I never would have believed you. I am so incredibly grateful to RYE for this opportunity and for everyone who has helped me get here.

Sydney Rodriguez

Japan

Hometown: Parkland, Florida
School: Pompano Beach High School
Sponsor District : District 6990
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of , Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Kon'nichiwa! I currently live with my totally awesome mother and super sweet twin brother and although I will miss them, I am looking forward to a year abroad in Japan! I am in a great magnet school that focuses on international affairs and technology. At school, I focus on engineering and math classes. I also participate in several clubs after school, including SECME (building and robotics) and E-Sports. I am also the Class Secretary, served as a mentor for new students, and am on the Diving team. My hope is to get a degree in Engineering from MIT. A few years ago, I played club volleyball, and hope to join the volleyball team in Japan, if they have one. When I get home after school, I like to spend my time fostering baby kittens or going out with friends. My mother is from the U.S. (California), and my father is from Cuba, and I was born in Miami. We moved north to Parkland when I was in second grade. I have been lucky enough to have had a number of opportunities to travel, which I hope helps me adjust quickly to living in Japan. Last summer I went to China for a school trip, and I have been to Switzerland and Israel. I also have been to a number of cities in the United States, as we have family that lives all over. This trip, however, is the most exciting thing I have ever done. I am looking forward to learning to speak Japanese, to meeting my new family, and to experiencing everything Japan has to offer. I am very thankful to the Rotary Club for this once in a lifetime opportunity!

Sydney Lynch

Switzerland

Hometown: St. John’s, Florida
School: Creekside
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Southpoint, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Hello! My name is Sydney and I will be spending my sophomore year of high school abroad in Switzerland! I am extremely grateful for this opportunity Rotary has given me, as it will extend my understanding of the world by leaps and bounds. Ever since I was a baby, my family has traveled around the world, fostering my love for travel and adventure. I live at home with my parents, my younger sister Aiya and our dog Charlie. I am currently a freshman at Creekside High School. There I participate in band, Cyberpatriots, which is an Air Force sponsored system security competition, the Society of Women Engineers, and am enrolled in the Academy of Engineering and Environmental Sciences. I’ve been in band for almost four years playing the tenor saxophone in both concert and jazz. Outside of school I train Taekwon-do, a Korean martial art. In November I tested for first degree black belt and passed, earning the rank after six years of training. On exchange I hope to gain more insights on different cultures and people in this diverse and complicated world. I am excited to begin this journey with Rotary and to see where this road takes me.

Vic Ferreira

Italy

Hometown: Margate, Florida
School: Pompano Beach
Sponsor District : District 6990
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of , Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Ciao! My name is Victoria Ferreira, I am 15 years old and I was born and raised in Brazil. I have been living in the United States with my parents for 4 years. I am currently a sophomore at Pompano Beach, and I will be spending my junior year abroad in Italy. Being able to move to a new country and learn a new language, a new culture and meet new people with different perspectives has changed me in many ways. I currently speak Portuguese, English and a little bit of Spanish. I also take French classes and I am going to start learning Italian. In addition to academics I have been in the debate team, humane society club and I played for my school’s varsity volleyball team. When I am not at school, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. Currently I live with both my parents, I also have an older brother who lives in Brazil. I am so grateful to have the opportunity of being a Rotary youth exchange student that is going to Italy. I believe that being able to spend one year abroad in exchange will shape me into becoming a better version of myself. Doing exchange has always been a dream of mine and I am super excited about what the experience of spending a year abroad is going to bring me.

Xitlalli Vasquez

Korea

Hometown: Alpharetta, Georgia
School: Alpharetta High School
Sponsor District : District 6900
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Alpharetta Rotary Club, Georgia
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Hello!!! I am 15 years old. I was born and raised in Atlanta,GA. I am the oldest of my 3 siblings I have one sister and two brothers. My mom is from Mexico and My dad is from Colombia so I speak spanish as well as writing, and reading. Activities I love doing is dancing,working out,reading books like mysterious,drama,romance adventurous, magic and son on I also love listening to music during my spare time. Spending time with my family is one of the best things I love to do especially with my siblings they always make me laugh even when I'm having not the best day they always find a way making me laugh and I'm so grateful to have them. I love learning about other cultures and just learining more about people around the world, but not just that I love traveling too. Which is why I wanted to become an exchange student. Me to learn another language and exploring more about the cultures is an accomplishment I want to do and this is something I've been wanting to do for long time. I couldn't be more happy then given an opportunity to travel and learn at the same time.

Yoga Maka

Japan

Hometown: New Smyrna Beach, Florida
School: New Smyrna Beach
Sponsor District : District 6970
Sponsor Club: Rotary Club of Edgewater, Florida
Host District: TBA
Host Club: TBA


My Bio


Hello, I am an outbound for 2020-2021. The country I will be residing is Japan. I am very excited to for the exchange and still feel like I am dreaming. I always wanted to be an exchange student since learning what it is and Japan is a country I always wanted to visit and I am glad to go. I live in a small beach town and not much happens. I live with my Mom and Dad and two brothers. I am very close with my brothers and my parents are the best because they have always encouraged me to do my best. I love my family very much and I'm very blessed to be a part of this amazing family. At school I get mostly A's and a few B's I take AP classes, honors and duel enrollment courses as well. In December I was chosen for scholar of the months for having the best grades. I also take part in the chess club were I am the Vice President and also am a member of the interact club which specializes in volunteering and helping the community. Going through the exchange I hope to learn more about the world and be able to learn from others and their culture shaped them compared to how my culture shaped me. Going through the exhange will be the best thing for me and I am glad I will be able to take part in.