Thursday, February 10, 2011
S has been an important letter in our house these past couple of months. Steffy Ramos, the Rotary Exchange Student from Ecuador, has been living with our family. We have loved having her and have had so much fun. I want to take this public opportunity to thank the Rotary Club of Haliburton for participating in the International Exchange Student Program. This program is administered by Rotary International and this year alone there are 8,000 students exchanging around the world. This program builds good will, international understanding and great friendships between people and countries. This year Myia Newton (from Lochlin!!!!) is the outgoing exchange student who is currently living in Ecuador for the year. The way the program works is that the Haliburton Rotary Club must have an incoming student (Steffy) in order to send a student out (Myia). I believe that the entire community benefits on both ends of the exchange. Both girls make friends, live with 3-4 host families, attend Rotary meetings in the community they live, participate in exchange student weekends with all the international students in their district and then return home and share their stories for the rest of their lives. It is an organizational masterpiece that is all done by volunteers around the world in service of fostering international understanding. As a community we should never take this opportunity for granted. Our young people have visited countries such as Austria, France, Chile, Australia, India etc. It is the opportunity of a life time.
For the past couple of months we have joked all the time about all the "S's" in Steffy's life here. She has tried snowshoeing, sledding, skiing, skating, snowboarding, speaking on the radio, sushi making and still looks forward to many more adventures like ice fishing, dog sledding etc. As the host on Canoe FM said last week, Steffy lights up the room when she enters it. She has been a wonderful big sister to my daughter Madeline and a very obliging slave (another S!) to our dog Bella (yes, our dog rules our house and we all spend a lot of time letting her in and out).
Steffy moves onto her next host family in a couple of weeks. She is excited to experience another Canadian family. And I know that family is excited to host her. While we are sad that Steffy is moving out, we are so grateful to have had this experience and look forward to visiting her in Ecuador som
day. Thanks again to all of you Rotarians who make this very special program happen. It makes a big difference to so many people.