November 8, 2012 at 7:25 a.m.
Chisago Lakes Rotary is helping sponsor an exchange student who left the scenic seaside and mountains of her native Chile, to spend a year here in Minnesota. The International Rotary “Long Term Stay” exchange program made possible her trip and arranged the host family sites. The Rotary will coordinate travel of some 8,000 students amongst dozens of nations this year alone. According to Rotary, youth ages 15 to their early 20s have been criss-crossing cultures for 75 years, thanks to these short and long term exchange programs. At just 17-years-old, Eli (say elly) Cordova is attending school at Chisago Lakes to immerse herself in the English language and learn more about the United States. Her plans for a career include pursuing law or special education, possibly teaching English. For the first hour of class time she is involved each day in a local special education program as a teaching assistant, which she very much enjoys. Eli explains that she chose the U.S. as her preferred Rotary Exchange Program destination, but being placed in Minnesota was randomly arranged. Eli said her first choice would have been New York City, but after watching the news coverage of Hurricane Sandy-- now she’s kind of grateful she didn’t end up out East. Weather is still bound to be a memorable aspect of her exchange adventure, however.
She has never experienced snow and we all know she’s in for a heaping dose of that real soon. Craig and Brenda Lindstrom are Eli’s guardians/hosts for the first third of her stay. Becky and Randy Wille and their family then takes over, and the final host family will be the Scheldorfs. At the conclusion of her school year, the Rotary program provides participants with a tour of some U.S. sights and then Eli will make the long trip (about two days) back to South America. Brenda Lindstrom said the family has considered hosting through Rotary for a while, and this year the timing finally seemed right to open-up their home outside of Chisago City. Eli has her own room and also is enjoying her temporary sister, Kensie and brother Hunter. She keeps home-sickness at bay using Facebook and Skype to communicate with her family. It has been an “enlightenting” and terrific experience inviting Eli into the household, said Brenda. Eli easily has exposed the Lindstroms to as many new things as Eli herself is experiencing here. Some highlights in her visit so far include attending a Twins baseball game, which was very fun even though it’s not a sport she’s familiar with (in Chile it’s all about soccer.) Eli liked the “good eats.” Also a day at the state fair won’t be easily forgotten. To learn more about Chisago Lakes Rotary, drop by one of the club’s regular Tuesday noon meetings at Eichten’s, on Hwy. 8 or see the Rotary website for general information.
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