Rotary youth exchange student tells of time abroad

Diane Hines, Houlton Rotarian, Special to The County
4 years ago

HOULTON, Maine — The Houlton Rotary Club met for its Monday luncheon meeting at Watson Hall on June 10 and the guests of the day were Alex Wilde with his mother Tracy Storti and also Jamie Brown, daughter of Rotarian Jim Brown. As the Rotary District Youth Exchange Coordinator Dana Delano introduced Wilde who was a Rotary Youth Exchange student in 2018.

Wilde has just graduated as valedictorian of Houlton High School’s Class of 2019 and is going to Brown University. He received the Maine Seal of Biliteracy, meaning he is fluent in speaking, reading, writing and listening to another language. Delano mentioned that Jamie Brown will be going to Sicily, Italy as a Rotary exchange student this summer before she heads off to Bowdoin College in Brunswick this fall.

Wilde went to Madrid, Spain and stayed with Victor Ovejero and his family who had ties to northern Spain, Madrid and the southern part of coastal Spain. Wilde spent three weeks traveling throughout the country. Being a “foodie,” Wilde found that the food was the most memorable part of the trip.

When Ovejero came to Maine as part of the exchange the family took him to Portland, Fun Town in Saco, the covered bridge in Hartland, New Brunswick, and they celebrated the Fourth of July parade here in Houlton. They also toured some American colleges.

For Wilde, his experience as an exchange student led to great personal growth and broadened his view of the world. He attributes his confidence in the language with total immersion and this also gave him the confidence to apply for scholarships and helped him to choose a college where he plans to take his junior year abroad.

His mother spoke about the opportunities that this trip gave to her son as well as changing his perspective on the world. She thanked Rotary for all that the trip provided to the students, saying that it transformed a previously reserved student and gave him the confidence to grow. She admitted that it certainly wasn’t easy taking someone into their home but in the end it was a great learning experience and she thanked the club for this experience.