Exchange students get the 'experience of a lifetime'

Rotary Club sends El Dorado Hills student to Belgium
By: Laura Newell, Telegraph staff writer
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Next month, 16-year-old Lauren Kille of El Dorado Hills will leave the comfort of home and live in a new country and culture. Through the Rotary Club of El Dorado Hills Youth Exchange Program, Kille will travel to Belgium and live with host families for one year. She leaves Aug. 15, and will not come home during the entire year. “Since a young age, I’ve always wanted to travel,” said Kille, an Oak Ridge High School junior. “So in the eighth grade, I started really looking into it.” She said she looked into the Rotary program last year, and things really took off. She first e-mailed immediate past rotary president Bill Tobin, and from there began the in-depth interview process. “July 1, 2010, was my first day as club president and I received an e-mail from Lauren interested in the program,” Tobin said. “It had been a number of years since we hosted students, at least five years. So it was so exciting for her to be interested again.” The excitement didn’t stop for Tobin as another student, Emmaline Wilson, also became interested in the program. In addition, two students will travel here and live with host families. Now, the El Dorado Hills program is preparing to host a total four students, two coming and two going for the year. “Our club is very excited to participate in this program again,” Tobin said. “The Rotary Youth Exchange Program is about creating peace through understanding.” Tobin and his wife Sherie, will also participate in the rotary program by hosting student Francisco Martinez, 17, of Barcelona, Spain. “Our youngest graduated Oak Ridge High School four years ago, so we are redoing senior year,” Tobin said. Martinez will attend Oak Ridge High School while staying in El Dorado Hills. “It’s one thing to say you are going for a goal, and it’s another to actually do it,” Kille said. While in Belgium, she will go to school and live with three separate host families to learn more about the culture and lifestyle. “I think that when I go over there, I’m going to figure out what I want to do with my life,” she said. “By having the separation from my home and friends, I’ll get out of my comfort zone and experience something different.” She has made a personal goal to experience her new life away from home without contact with her family and friends for the first month to help with separation anxiety. “I think the first month will be complete bliss from being in Europe,” Kille said. “Then, a month later or so, I’ll probably get home sick.” The program also suggests her family not visit until the end of her stay to help avoid homesickness. “I don’t get to come home during the whole year, I’ll miss my family but I’m excited because my new family over there will have their own cultures and traditions that I can learn,” she said. To prepare for her trip, she has taken two years of French at Oak Ridge High School. “I hope to be fluent after this experience,” she said. “To prepare, I have read a lot of French to English dictionaries this summer. I’ve embraced Belgium.” She said Belgium was in her top three picks allotted. The other two included France and Italy. “I’m so happy to have gotten Belgium,” she said. “It’s central to the other areas I want to see.” Her parents Mark and Geri, are proud of their daughter for following her dreams. “This is something that she has always wanted,” Mark said. “She is goal oriented. She wanted it and got it. I’m very proud of her.” Kille said she is counting down the days to leave for her trip and excited for her new experience. “This is an experience of a lifetime, a yearlong experience of a lifetime,” Tobin said. “Lauren has what it takes to participate in this program. She’s full of spirit and has the ability to adapt and get along with people and other cultures.” For more information,visit