He saw foreign exchange students roaming the hallways of his school at Clarke Community High School, and wondered why not me ... in another country?
So, 17-year-old Jesse Monroe began seeking resources online and elsewhere to become an exchange student in another country. Eventually — with some assistance from Clarke High School Guidance Counselor Jennifer Scott — Monroe began conversing with the local Rotary Club.
“I think this is a chance of a lifetime for Jesse,” Scott said. “I also studied abroad in college, and it can be a very meaningful experience that gives you a worldly perspective. My part in helping Jesse was minimal. I, as well as many other teachers, encouraged him to contact the Rotary. I helped him make the first phone call, and he took over from there.”
The local Rotary Club got Monroe in contact with Loring Miller — member of Rotary Youth Exchange District 6,000 committee — who advised Monroe he was late in the process, but he hadn’t missed any training so the exchange program was still available to him.
Monroe was accepted into the program. He will join 17 other outbound students from southwest Iowa in the exchange program. Monroe is one of five students who will be going to Italy.
“I got lucky, and they let me pick where I wanted to go,” Monroe said. “I selected Italy because I’ve thought about becoming a chef after high school, but I’m now having second thoughts. I thought what better place to learn about being a chef than in Italy.”
Monroe — currently a junior at Clarke High School — said he will be living with two to three host families during his time in Italy. He’s set to leave sometime in August and will be in Italy for the duration of the school year. He’s expected to return to Iowa sometime in May 2014.
“It seems like a beautiful place,” Monroe said. “It seems like a more relaxed atmosphere and has a real family environment. I’m really hoping my host family can cook. I think this next year could really help me see the world in a completely different way and give me a different perspective.”