Posted by Bonnie Smith-Davis
Anahi’s self confident, but quietly positivity shows in her bright smile today as it always does. Her plans are made and completed one at a time. One of her first goal this year was to learn to speak English confidently . When she arrived here with her first interview, her translation app was receiving a real workout  and she needed a lot of assistance from her host mom. But, not now. Anahi communicates on her own with me more clearly and understandably than some American students.
Over the 8 months of living in the Cedar Valley, she has had many adventures. In-between a full-time job as a student at West High School in Waterloo. But, she says... “ I can’t believe it is already only 28 days left here.  So many friends and incredible places. So many friends. I will miss them all.”
When we last caught up with her she was at the Ritters home and was getting used to high school life with her American sister...Going out for track activities, going on trips (as to Chicago) and more. USA style was a little challenging, but she was up to it. Rotarian events like packing boxes of needed items for Nicaraguan children was just one event. She regularly has attended meetings and presented with poise and stage presence about her culture at various state Rotary events, including a program for our club. After a little adjustment in schedules, she dove into a schedule of classes and has excelled in her classwork.
This belief shines through her life...If you don’t try , you don’t have the opportunity to learn.  She has already learned through events in her young life, time passes too quickly to not make use of every moment. Accepting one challenge at a time.
As Anahi transitioned into winter season and cold weather which was entirely new to her, she enjoyed the freezing weather changes and snow. While with hosts Dana and Rachel Jenson( and family of Luke Jenson of Rotary), Rachel spoke lovingly about Anahi’s stay and her positive attitude and abilities.She had a wide range of to experience running a snowblower, downhill skiing at Sundown for first time, skating at Young area and a whole lot more fun helping out the community giving back, Rotarian style. Service above self. For instance, she helped Spanish families here understand at St Vincent de Paul gift giveaway how to bring gifts and other items to their homes. She helped deliver gifts to a needy family at Christmas and even helped return a lost wallet to a UNI student.
Since she hadn’t had much experience in cooking and managing a kitchen, a culinary class at West High has helped Anahi grow ... Her hosts helped her learn too. Rachel  makes THE BEST from scratch mac and cheese. “Not from a box. It is SO GOOD.”  Anahi now knows how to make good food from scratch. She has learned how do laundry, cook new dishes as apple muffins, pasta, tomato paste (from scratch), and many other things as French foods. She has cooked for hosts and a Rotary conference several tasty dishes.including ‘chipa guazu’ a yummy cornbread Paraguayan dish often served with soup.
She has been a helpful teaching assistant for her Spanish( her native language) teacher working with other students. Increasing both the class’ and her own bi-lingual understanding.
Anahi says Bill Dawson’s theatre class at West is fun. It challenges her; Paraguay didn’t offer her drama classes so learning to mime, improvise conversations and block stage presentations among other things is quite a challenge, but she is enjoys a challenge.
She seems to be quietly in command especially when enveloped in beauty of dance and music...right now she is practicing to be a dancer in the upcoming West High’s stage presentation Peter Pan (Come see it May 18 at West High...Support our community!)
Anahi experienced Prom. High heels and all. So beautiful. So many other precious memories as well.
Her skill and interest in sciences- math will shine even more as she continues with her long term goal to be a doctor to help people. Anahi would like to attend school here, but says it is so expensive. Although in Paraguay the education is free to her,  she thinks about scholarships and has seen what medical facilities and colleges are like here. She hopes to include it as her long-term educational goal.
Travel continues to be another goal. Rojas lists New York City and California as places to see and also countries in Europe. Perhaps when she learns to drive next year at home that will expand her horizons even more. 
She visited the Five Sullivan brothers center event for the Waterloo Schools Foundation breakfast. Over 500 people including many children and youth from the area with learning exhibits... and talked to youth and educators about learning.
Her beautiful, quiet strength develops from the closeness and support of her loving, caring family home in Paraguay...“ My older sister soon will be getting married in Mexico. I will get to see my sister and mom for first time in almost nine months.  “It will be so great to see them again.”
Some other fun things she does with her friends includes going to movies,  listening to music, eating good food (as at Olive Garden) and lots of learning always. She and the Durbahns, Mark and Brenda, who  so enjoyed Anahi’s stay with them, took her to Des Moines to enjoy the sites, and learned about the state capital and even climbed to the very top over 200 steps up! (and then  down of course)
I have no doubt that whatever Anahi sets her mind to doing, will be done. Anahi, keep us posted. We wish you and your family only and all the best. Your family and your Rotary are very proud to have you with us this 2018-1019 school year.
-Bonnie Smith-Davis