By Lisa Scott
Special to The SUN
The Pagosa Springs Rotary Club is currently hosting youth exchange student Jaime Novoa Alvarez, high school junior, from Madrid, Spain, who arrived in Pagosa Springs Aug. 27.
Being from a big city, he’s enjoying the contrast of a small community and said he loves the mountain scenery. His parents are both business professionals and he has an older sister and younger brother. Alvarez is smart, athletic and loves all sports and trying new things. He is an avid tennis player and loves to snow ski.
At Pagosa Springs High School, he is enrolled in some typical American classes, including U.S. history and English. He is also taking classes that will prepare him to return for his last year of high school before going to a university, like calculus, physics and other science classes.
He played on the boys’ high school soccer team this fall and is participating in the wrestling program this winter.
Alvarez’s first host family is Joe and Laura Foster and their son, Jack, senior, and daughter Carolyn, sophomore. Jack participated in the short-term exchange program and did a family exchange with Mario Rizzo from Catania, Italy, during the summer of 2018.
Two students spent the 2018-19 school year in Pagosa Springs. Theo Bonlokke, from Denmark, was hosted by the Farrah, Barker and Kay-Jordan families. Catalina Aguilera, from Chile, was hosted by the Raymond, Bartz and Bowles families. Both students had wonderful exchange experiences and made many friends.
Additionally, two Pagosa Springs residents participated in the outbound exchange program. Lauren Rowland spent her school year in Denmark and Sahvanna Vasquez lived in Romania. These young ladies spent the past school year learning the local language and experiencing the culture and home life in their respective countries.
The Rotary exchange program is always interested in talking with students that are interested in the outbound program and families that are interested in hosting a student. Anyone who is interested in learning more about this opportunity should contact Rotarians Lisa Scott, 264-2730 or firstname.lastname@example.org; Marianne DeVooght, 731-2009; Ronnie Doctor, 946-6367; or Granton Bartz, 946-2827.
The Rotary Clubs in Pagosa Springs have participated in the International Youth Exchange Program for decades. Students apply for this opportunity through the local Rotary Club and are interviewed and selected by committees in each country. Once a student is placed, they spend 10-12 months in that community and live with two or three different families during their time abroad. This way, they experience different family environments and meet a wider variety of people.
Rotary clubs in town include the noon club, which meets Thursdays at noon, and the evening club meets every Thursday at 5 p.m., both at Pagosa Brewing and Grill. Rotary is always accepting new members and invites anyone who would like to explore the opportunity to make contact with any community Rotarian or the names listed above.
Rotary International is an international service organization whose purpose is to bring together dedicated individuals to exchange ideas, build relationships, take action and help build goodwill and peace in the world. There are over 34,000 clubs and over 1.2 million members worldwide.