Valerie Poot, like many young people, dreamed of leaving home and traveling the world at a young age. Unlike most other 18-year-olds, though, Valerie did just that, as she left her home in Brussels to spend a year as a high school senior in Menifee.
Having already finished her schooling in Belgium, Valerie came to California to get the high school experience “like in the movies.” Knowing early on that she wanted to become a foreign exchange student, Valerie researched several different exchange programs before she found the Rotary Club.
“I have a friend that had gone through Rotary for her exchange, and since the organization is run by volunteers, it seemed as if they really cared for your experience, rather than just wanting your money,” Valerie explained.
|Valerie Poot is staying in Menifee with Rotary Club member Paul David, owner of Elevate Fitness, and his wife Christine.|
The Rotary Youth Exchange program is unique in that, instead of living with one host family for the duration of their stay, visiting students switch households three or four times during their stay. This ensures that the student is exposed to different cultures and lifestyles throughout their visit.
However, as this is the first time the Menifee Rotary Club is sponsoring a student, it is in need of more volunteer host families. Similarly, Rotary International is also willing to send a Menifee student abroad, to help build the program and provide a local student with the opportunity to develop a lifetime of friendships, to learn about a different culture and gain many other rewarding experiences.
If your family or someone you know is interested in becoming a host family for an exchange student, or travelling as an exchange student internationally, please contact Tom Yuzer, Menifee Rotary Club Youth Coordinator, at 951-679-8541.