The meeting room was especially full of family and friends on an otherwise drab and rainy Wednesday at the Aug. 9 meeting of the Humble Rotary Club. An extra table had to be put out to accommodate all the attendees, who welcomed home three exchange students from their year living abroad.
Jack Whitmer, Kierstan Hunt and Brandon Collins are all area students who recently completed a year-long Rotary exchange trip, and each gave a presentation to the Humble Rotary about their experiences as they learned the language and culture of another country.
Each of the students chose to focus on a different aspect of their year. Whitmer, who traveled to Paraguay, bouncily recounted how he got to meet animals such as llamas, penguins and coatis on his trip, as well as how he struck up strong friendships with his host families and schoolmates. Hunt showed off the picturesque natural and urban scenery of northern Italy with the photos she took while there, which included shots from Milan, Genoa and the Alps. Collins spoke about how during his time living in Berlin, Germany, he also got to travel across Europe and beyond, from Boston to Budapest, Hungary.
Each of the exchange students at the meeting spoke about how the people they met on their trips were one of the most important parts of their experience. Whitmer, especially, forged a strong bond with one of his three host families. All the students agreed that they would be inviting their former hosts families to their weddings, if or when they marry.
“I was completely endeared [by my host family]. I love them so much ... If I could bring anything back with me, it would be them,” Whitmer said.
The Humble Rotary will also be welcoming two exchange students to the United States within the next week. They plan to greet each student – one arriving from Belgium and the other from Colombia – at the airport.
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