Exchange students get experience of a lifetime

Melfort Journal
Published with permission of the Melfort Journal

Exchange student Marimar Velasco, who travelled to Melfort almost one year ago from Puebla, Mexico, bid farewell this past weekend to all of the friends that she made here during her stay.

It was a sad, but good-spirited party that included Velasco's family, who travelled from Mexico to help see her off.

Velasco said that she will always hold Melfort and its people dear in her heart.

"I feel like this is my home, so I could stay here for a long time," said Velasco.

"I'm sad because I have to leave all of the people here, but I'm happy because I had a great year and I want to see my dad and my friends."

She added that one of the things that she really enjoyed during her stay in Canada was the ice cream.

"Dairy Queen, Rolo ice cream. Yummy, " said Velasco.

When she initially arrived in Melfort, she had little experience in the English language, but managed to pick it up quite quickly.

The crowd at the party showered her with gifts that will forever remind her of Canada. Gifts such as coin sets, Canadian flags and photo albums filled with life-changing memories.

Velasco was part of the exchange student program put on by Rotary International.

Joelle Link of Melfort was also present at the party, who just arrived from her exchange not two days earlier from Sydney, Australia.

Link said that it was good for her, because she was forced to adapt to big city life almost immediately after arriving.

"Sydney is a really big city and I wasn't quite used to it, but once I got there, I just fell in love with the city and the water," said Link.

She added that one of the things she loved the most about being Down Under was that she was able to attempt surfing.

"I tried it out a few times," said Link.

"Once you get up on that board and you sail in, it's the greatest feeling."

Link said it was difficult to leave, as she left so many people behind who she considers family.

"I have to (go back)," said Link.

"I left so many friends and family there."

Dave Pollack of the Rotary Club in Hudson Bay said it is extremely important for not only the students that come over from other countries, but for the families who host them as well.

"There is a spin off effect, because these students interact with I don't know how many people, young people and older people and it gives us a chance to meet people from other parts of the world," said Pollack.

He added that the main goal of the program is to tackle world issues and to ultimately achieve world peace.

Jenelle Dufault also of Melfort is getting ready to leave on her exchange at the end of August to Argentina. She said she is extremely excited and is looking forward to learning the language.

"It will be a challenge, but I think I will catch on quickly," said Dufault.

"I'm more excited than nervous."

Currently there are 25 students in Canada on exchanges put on by the Rotary International from France, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Mexico, Argentina and many others.