My father and grandfather have been involved in Rotary for as long as I can remember. I didn’t really know what it was at first, except they met for lunch once a week and talked about things. There were also the months where my grandparents would have someone from another country come and stay with them. I never really understood why anyone would do this, let alone choose to stay in my hometown. We’re not exactly the most exciting city in Ohio.
The summer before my freshman year in high school I was choosing my classes that I would take. I knew that I didn’t want to take Spanish as my foreign language. I had taken it for the last 7 years and didn’t really retain much because I didn’t enjoy it. I chose French. It sounds like Spanish so I figured it would be easier to catch on. My French teacher my freshman year was Mrs. Arbogast and she was amazing. She made French fun, exciting, and enthralling. I looked forward to class every day. Not to mention I was taking it with my best friend Carolyn.
Half way through the year the opportunity to visit France was created and I was enticed and my parents, somehow, decided to let me go. It was this trip where I first laid eyes on the beautiful City of Lights and fell in love instantly. She had me hook, line, and sinker.
I don’t remember specifics, but I am sure there were many conversations about going back over and one of them turned into staying longer than a few weeks. I do remember Dad bringing up the Rotary exchange program where you can do a short exchange, only during the summer months, or you can do the full year. I thought, why the heck not do a full year? What’s not to loose.
I chose the option of living abroad for 12 months over the option of having a car. I forego getting my driver’s license till after I returned for a passport that would open the world to me. I had the opportunity to go to Sao Paolo and live with the family that my grandparents had hosted all of their children over the years and see the wonders of Brazil. Paris kept calling my name. And I would be the luckiest of the lucky and placed 25 minutes from the city. Heck, I could see the Eiffel Tower from my my lycée’s courtyard!