Local student headed to Ecuador
Local high school student Kelly Lemon will spend the 2004-2005 academic year living in Ecuador as part of the Rotary Club’s youth exchange program. The program, one of the oldest exchange programs in the world, offers more than 8,000 students the opportunity to live and study abroad every year.
A straight-A student, Lemon is a sophomore at Battle Mountain High School, and had to fill out several lengthy applications and go through an intensive three-day conference and interview process.
Extracurricular activities, as well as the willingness to try new things, are some of the qualities the Rotary Club looks for in exchange candidates.
“Performing arts is a big part of my life,” Lemon says. ” Recently I was in ‘Evening on Broadway’ at the Vilar Center, in the play ‘Bonechiller,’ playing an undercover detective, and I am currently in the Battle Mountain High School musical. ‘Jesus Christ Super Star.'”
Lemon is a member of the Battle Mountain High School speech team and placed fifth in the state in the duet drama competition and eighth in original orator. Lemon is also a member of Future Business Leaders of America and an active member of Vail Bible Church, where she teaches Sunday school.
“I love it,” Lemon says. “I love working with the kids and their great ideas, so I hope to find a church in Ecuador where I will be able to help and give my services to the children’s ministry.”
In March, Lemon will attend a Rotary conference to learn about her host families, curriculum requirements and arrangements for her travel. Students in the Rotary program live with three different families during their year abroad.
Before leaving for Ecuador, Lemon will communicate with her host families via e-mail. With three years of Spanish studies behind her, she is already familiar with the language and culture, but says she hopes to learn much more about Latin America and to become fluent in Spanish during her stay.
Lemon says she is attracted by Ecuador’s Latin culture and the wide range of scenery – from sunny beaches and snowy mountains to the jungle. She is a photographer and hopes to bring back many photos of this beautiful country and its people.
Lemon’s parents say they are very much in favor of the Rotary program. The Lemon family lived in Hong Kong and Southeast Asia for years, working in the international banking business, and Kelly herself was born in Hong Kong.
The Vail Eagle Valley Rotary Club and its programs are a resource for local students who may not otherwise consider studying abroad. Local students and families can participate in the program by either becoming host families for incoming exchange students or applying for consideration as exchange students.
Host families provide room and board and the host Rotary Club finances the tuition for academic programs as well as a monthly allowance. Many clubs also offer scholarships or financial assistance to qualified students. The program costs about $5,000 including airfare, insurance, spending and emergency money.
“II really feel I am going to gain a lot through the experience and am very appreciative for all the help in preparation of my trip,” Lemon says.