Why is our club committed to Rotary Youth Exchange? What are the objectives of Youth Exchange? What impact does Youth Exchange have on our youth? Does it develop a better understanding of other cultures and their needs? Read Hannah’s report and you will develop a special appreciation for this great program and the maturity of a young lady named Hannah.
There will be a fundraiser at the Davitt’s this Friday evening. Funds raised will help the French teacher and students impacted with some tough conditions.
Hello everyone! This is Hannah Davitt, Rotary Youth Exchange to France.
This year has been a real blessing. I've discovered so much about France, but also about myself, and I have many people to thank for this. I want to thank my Rotary club here and in Texas, my counselors, all my families, and so many other people.  However, there is one group of people who I would like to talk about who really helped me learn French and gain a very enriching and in-depth view at a different way to live.  That would by my French class at the local middle school.  I take French classes here for about 15 hours a week at a middle school next to my high school.
The students in this class come from all walks of life, and all ages; the youngest being 8 years old and the oldest being me. This mix of age, culture, and level of language make for a very interesting class (and sometimes very rowdy class) and it's all led by a 4 foot 8 inch French woman with a humongous heart. She goes above and beyond to teach us French. She has met me on the weekend outside of class to help me choose a library book. She goes to the local refugee's housing to give lessons on Saturday.  Not only does she go out of her way to help us progress with the language, she also tries to make it so that the kids have everything they need to feel welcomed and supported in their new country.  In my opinion, the most enriching aspect of this class is that most of these kids are refugees.
When I embarked on this exchange I expected to meet new people and hear different stories, but I never expected to be sitting next to a 13 year old boy from Afghanistan who can't hear in one ear because a bomb went off next to his home, about two weeks before his father sent him away with a strange man to flee the country because he didn't want his son to be kidnapped by the Taliban and be used as a suicide bomber. I've never had to have the same worries as these kids.  For example Elsa; the Albanian girl who sits across from me and eats lunch with me on Wednesdays, has one more chance to appeal to the French court system or else she will get sent back to Albania without her family, because she just turned 18. Every single student in that class has a different story and way of life that no one can ever truly understand unless they have experienced it. My French teacher takes it upon herself to make sure that these kids can enjoy what they have fought so hard to gain. She buys them library cards, takes us to movies, and makes it a point to celebrate everyone's birthday. This woman has truly inspired me and I believe that she embodies the Rotary motto "Service Above Self". I wanted to tell you about her not just because I believe she deserves more recognition but also because she would like to take our class to the sea. There are students in my class who have lived in Angoulême for years and have never seen the sea (and we live an hour away from it). To rent the bus, it costs 270€ and that makes it roughly about 15€ for each person, but that is simply not possible for everyone to pay in my class as many of this children have very little money.  I would like to help with costs of this trip including incidentals.  We also would like to paint the classroom to make it more welcoming for the students.  Also, I would like to raise additional funds which will allow my French teacher to take additional cultural outings such as museums and maybe a train trip to Bordeaux to see the incredible museums and architecture.  These kids escaped their country to live a better life.  I would like to help them achieve a bit of this better future before I return to the US and leave a bit of hope for their future lives.
My parents and I had the idea of throwing a fundraiser to help with this cost. I have presented this idea with my French club here, and they have agreed to manage an account for my teacher. I would really appreciate it if y'all could come celebrate this amazing individual who has touched not only my life, but the life of every child who has had the chance to be her student. Thank you so much!! Merci beaucoup