Local students embark on ‘a life-changing experience’ | News

The 3rd century theologian Saint Augustine is credited with saying: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page of it. Two Telluride High School sophomores, Philip Brooks and Liam Intemann, are about to go through many more chapters as they each venture overseas for the upcoming school year as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange. Brooks is heading to Austria and Intermann will be in Argentina.

Patricia Kiernan is Youth Exchange Manager for the Telluride Rotary Club.

“We are just starting the program again after a two-year COVID break and are excited to open this opportunity again,” she said. “The program is an incredible opportunity for a young adult to grow and develop while being part of an international organization that embraces peace through international goodwill and understanding. Students attend a local high school and participate in community events to learn about social, cultural and historical traditions.

The local students, Kiernan explained, are two of 15 students from the Rotary District of which the Telluride Club is a part, representing central and southern Colorado. Although the trip is yet to be confirmed, Brooks and Intemann will depart in August and return in June 2023.

A school year abroad is usually spent with three different families, with students visiting nearby schools and not only learning about the local culture, but also becoming part of each family’s life.

For Liam’s parents, Conor and Jamie, the notion of overseas travel has long been part of family conversations.

“Once Liam was old enough to talk, we discussed amazing opportunities to travel abroad, maybe even live abroad with family, and gain experience by immersing himself in other cultures and languages,” Jamie said.

It is therefore not surprising that their son – and only child – took the opportunity to participate in the exchange program.

“The best part is that Liam isn’t doing this for us, he’s actually the one embracing and motivating this opportunity, and we’re all excited for him,” Jamie said, “Of course he will be sorely missed.”

For his part, Liam will also be missed by his parents and friends, but the experience, he said, will be worth the challenge of swapping the familiar for the new.

“The adventure I’m about to embark on will be one of the most terrifying, amazing and exciting I’ve been on,” he said. “It’s new territory for me, leaving my family and friends behind for an entire year. The challenge of adjusting to a new family and learning the ropes will be unimaginable. But I chose to go abroad with Rotary to open my eyes and see all the opportunities that Argentina has to offer.

Philip Brooks considers his decision to take part in the program a “great commitment” and one that left him with “mixed emotions”. Naturally, because he will fully immerse himself in Austrian culture, which includes speaking only German.

“It’s going to be daunting and daunting going from the life you’re comfortable with into a whole new culture and language, a language that to me is practically new,” Brooks said. “By the time I leave for Austria in August, I will only have studied German for about five or six months and will have to speak only German with little or no help during the transition.”

Brooks admitted to some anxiety – will he get along with his foster family? – but said his excitement far outweighed any concerns. Previous travel experiences and a family trip to Morocco as part of his participation in the Telluride Academy program, Mudd Butts International, whetted his appetite for more.

“It’s the most excited I’ve been in my life,” he said.

Philip’s older brother Julien, a former exchange participant, was also instrumental in his decision to dive into the experience.

“Another reason for wanting to go on exchange was my older brother, Julien, who went on exchange to Vigo, Spain, his second year. Besides hearing about his incredible experiences, it was shocking to see him go. knowing almost no Spanish and coming back perfectly fluent,” said Philip. “It was also Julien who convinced me to go to second year because as he explained, we don’t want to go there. too young, but you also want to be able to enjoy your upper class years with your friends at home.”

For local Rotarians, part of sending local students abroad is understanding that Telluride will host an international exchange student. That student has yet to be named, but Kiernan said Rotary is looking for a third host family.

“He or she will stay with three host families to get a real feel for life in America,” she said. “We currently have two families vetted and are looking for a third to complete their experience,”

One such host family is the Intemanns. They are eager to share their life in the mountains.

“Instead of being empty nests while Liam is away for his second school year, we are welcoming a student into our home this coming school year,” Jamie said. “I hope this student enjoys rafting, skiing and mountain biking, but otherwise it’s okay. We want to give back to a great program like Rotary in any way we can.

Brooks, in addition to her excitement, anticipates nothing less than a transformation of self.

“I’m sure it will be a life-changing experience, to say the least,” he said.

Liam agrees and can’t wait to hit the road.

“This exchange is truly extraordinary, and I can’t wait to see this all fall into place.”

According to the Rotary website, host families volunteer to host a high school student for about three and a half months, providing room and board. Rotary covers the school and incidental expenses of the incoming student, so the financial burden on the host family is minimal. While it is optimal to have homestays with a student at Telluride Middle/High School, it is not necessary; foster families can have younger children, be empty parents or be single parents. Telluride Rotary is looking for a family for the incoming student from March to mid-June.

Contact Kiernan at [email protected] or 619-517-5336, soon. For general questions, email [email protected] To learn more about Rotary Youth Exchange and being a host family, visit mountainandplainsrye.com.

About Norma Wade

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