Photo courtesy of Ron Rogos

(Left to Right:  Minako Horani, Shunpei Horani, Gemita Chavez, Wanawsha Hawrami)

The April 3rd meeting was a special night focused on our exemplary international students who are talented, service-minded and destined for success. The club has a great track record of finding outstanding students to support and nurture, and it was clear that the Rotary youth participating in this evening were no exceptions.

The program opened with Carole Maloney's re-introduction and warm welcome to former exchange student Minako and her brother, Shunpei Horani.  (He arrived in traditional Japanese attire). Rotarians Carole and Chuck Maloney hosted Minako in 2004-05, and have remained in contact with her since she returned to Japan.  Minako is an architect living in Tokyo and was visiting the Maloneys and presenting a gift of art to her former high school in Leesburg. 

Judy Smith introduced Wanawsha Hawrami, a 2010 Rotary Club of Leesburg Perry Winston Scholarship recipient who provided an update on her graduation from Virginia Tech, new position, and upcoming graduate studies in an VT's Public and International Affairs Program. 

The main program focused on the club's current exchange program and student. Our club's Youth Exchange Counselor Pam Banks gave a snapshot of the history of the Rotary International Youth Exchange program.  The overview included a summary of the "behind the scenes work" required by the District and our club to organize and execute a successful program. She has served as an outstanding counselor for our current exchange student since August 2013.  She recognized host mother Lynde Scheffer and District Youth Exchange leader Phil Rusciolelli.

Pam introduced Gemita (Gemy) Chavez who shared her journey as our Youth Exchange Student from Ecuador with photos and stories. After giving a glimpse of her family and home in Ecuador, she highlighted her time in the US that  included outings with other students, RYLA Camp, travel with her host family, a special birthday party, a funny picture with Phil and much more.  She received a standing ovation from club members who were glad to hear how well things are going.