Posted on Nov 07, 2022
In September, Plano West Rotary Club welcomed Olivia, a Rotary Youth Exchange student from the Provence region of France.
Rotary Youth Exchange is a program where students ages 15-19 who are leaders in their schools and communities are sponsored by Rotary clubs in more than 100 different countries to travel and live abroad for one academic year. Students learn a new language, discover another culture, and truly become global citizens.
Greeting Olivia at the airport:
Olivia is being sponsored by Rotary Club of Dallas, and Rotarian Sorana Ban is her counselor. She is hosted by Plano West Rotary Club member Roxana Iannarelli. Olivia is 16 years old and a junior in high school. She is attending Lovejoy High School while staying with Roxana’s family, and will return home at the end of this school year.
Olivia’s club back home is Rotary Club Aix-en-Provence Eguilles, Ventabren in District 1760.
When asked why she wanted to come to the US, Olivia said, “I wanted to come here to learn English, see the American culture and meet new people. I think the US is an attractive country because it’s big and it’s famous all over the world. All the states are different so there is a big variety of landscapes, culture, people.”
Olivia with Plano West President Joy Hinkelman; and Olivia on her first day of school:
She hopes to return to France next year as a bilingual speaker so she can communicate better in her studies, future jobs and travels, but we think she’s already a very good English speaker! She also hopes to pick up some of the Spanish language, which is quite likely living with Roxana’s family.
Olivia also hopes to experience more sports while living here, and has already signed up to participate in cross-country and has attended a football game. She said, “For me it was really impressive because we don’t have that in France, and everyone is invested, the dancers, the musicians, the students.”
She says she is also excited to see what the holidays will be like here. “Halloween, Thanksgiving (we don’t have that in France!), Christmas. [I want to see] how American people celebrate it compared to French people,” she said.
Olivia also hopes to visit other places around the US this year. She has traveled to New York with her host family, and they are planning to visit Roxana’s family in Pennsylvania for Thanksgiving.
“She is the most positive, lovely, happy girl. She loves the USA so much and looks forward to every day's adventure. Her first day of school was a blessing; I could see it in her eyes. Texas people are so welcoming!” said Roxana soon after Olivia started school.
Roxana’s family is especially involved with the Rotary Youth Exchange program, as Roxana’s 15-year-old daughter, Dominique, is also studying abroad this year in Switzerland.
All are invited to meet Olivia and listen to her speak about her experiences so far at the Plano West Rotary Club meeting at noon Dec. 13 at Norma’s Cafe in Plano.
Roxana's daughter Dominique, also a Rotary Youth Exchange Student; and Olivia's visit to NYC: