Posted by Bonnie Smith-Davis
Part 1:
With a heart as courageous as her love of life, Anahi is our new Downtown Rotary Club’s Exchange student from Paraguay.
She sat quietly beside me with her host mom Mary Donegan-Ritter and their family dog Sawyer on their beautiful outside porch. The rest of the family wasn’t home yet including host sister Alayna, a junior, out for cross country at  West. Her host dad Curt wasn’t home yet either.
    With a beautiful smile, Anahi focused right on me and answered questions clearly and completely as much as possible. Her caring host mom watched her carefully, listening and helping her only as needed as Anahi constructed her phrases and searched for ways to express deep feelings important to her. 
  “I am so grateful for my Rotary and for my host family,” Anahi expressed to me. It was clearly on her heart and written on her face.  Anahi, 16, is making adjustments to get used to the new routine. Her school in in her home town Coronel Oviedo (population  117,000) starts at 7:30 and goes until 12:30 from February through December and not every class meets every day.  Here, every class meets daily for the most part. Her native language is Spanish. She’s taking required courses here in Math, American Government and others. She will be a senior when she returns home. “It’s so big!” she says about West. Her own school, one of several in her home city, has only 800 students total, compared to West which has almost double that. Perhaps that is one reason why students here may seem a bit harder to get to know as least for now.
     Anahi looks forward to meeting other Rotarians and learning more about life...sharing culture , meeting people and seeing  the landscape of the USA and in particular the Cedar Valley... learning as much as possible. She has already travelled to Florida in US as well as to Brazil, Argentina and Bahamas. Anahi loves the dance...especially the ballet continues as an integral part of her life. She works out and has a love of music including American teen music. She plans to perform a traditional Paraguayan dance for Rotary members and brought a special dress with her to do so.
In Part 2: Anahi compares cultural landscapes, her family and what surprises her so far about life here.