For Harrison senior Aidan Leaird, he knew traveling to another country was in his future due to his early involvement in the Rotary Club and the opportunities of their exchange program.
“My family has been involved with the Rotary Youth Exchange program for a long time,” said Leaird.
His mother and all of his siblings have gone on exchange trips to unique countries like Sweden, Argentina and Thailand.
Leaird chose to go to Italy and stayed for 10 months.
“I was in the north along the Po River, in the Po River valley,” said Leaird. “My city’s name was Cremona.”
He stayed with a host family while he was there and went to school for a year.
“I had school Monday through Saturday, from 8 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon, and would not have lunch until I got home,” said Leaird. “Also, my class would stay in our same room the whole day, with the same classmates, and the teachers would come to our room.”
Italian culture was unknown to Leaird, and he only knew two words of Italian before his exchange to Italy.
By the time he left Italy, Leaird could have full conversations in Italian without hesitation.
Leaird was impressed with Italian cuisine.
“There were a lot of fresh fruits and fresh fish brought to my city,” said Leaird. “And there was always a lot of pasta, and so many kinds of pasta, with several kinds of sauce for them.”
Leaird returned from Italy on June 27 of this year.
“At the end, I had mixed feelings about coming home,” said Leaird. “I missed my family, and missed home, but also didn’t want to leave my new home.”
Leaird tries to stay in touch with his host family through Facebook messaging.
Next year, Leaird hopes to return to Italy over the summer.