Catalina Kenis will make the roughly 20-hour trip back home to Agrentina this afternoon, after living in Delaware since mid-December.
The short-term exchange student, who will enter her senior year at home, will drive about 40 minutes to the John Glenn Columbus International Airport; an estimated three-hour flight to Dallas; a more than 10-hour flight to Buenos Aires; and an approximate five-hour drive to her hometown of Daireaux.
“I don’t want to leave,” Kenis said.
The Delaware Rotary Club is part of a 25-county Rotary district that extends east from Delaware County to the Ohio River and south to the Ohio River and includes Franklin County. The district area has 10 to 15 long-term inbound students each school year and 10 to 15 outbound students.
The short-term exchange program has about 15 students, which is family to family and covers 4-6 weeks for each side.
The program started in 1929.
“Our Delaware Club has been hosting inbound students for decades at this stage,” said Rand Guebert, a club member.
The Delaware Club has one long term outbound this school year with Kaitlynn Johnson in Brazil and one long-term inbound with Vitoria Komesso from Brazil, both at Delaware Hayes High School.
As part of the program, Kenis has lived with Anika Casanova’s family in downtown Delaware. Casanova, a sophomore at Hayes, stayed with two families in June including Kenis’ home.
“I couldn’t ask for better families. I miss them more than words can express,” Casanova said.
She said teenagers in Daireaux have similar freedoms compared with college students because it’s a smaller town.
Kenis said the exchange program changed her a lot as the program encourages her to become part of the culture unlike a regular tourist. She was more shy when she came to Delaware, but Kenis had enough incentive to risk being more open since her stay was temporary.
She was awarded for taking the chance.
Kenis received first-hand experience of American education. She said there are more options here whereas students at home have to choose a patricular education track such as science or economics.
Kenis seized the opportunity to try chemistry and science courses at Hayes, while helping Delaware students learn Spanish. Such experiences changed her view of American high schools, which she initially based on stereotypes portrayed in films such as “High School Musical.”
Outside of education, Kenis visited several events and attractions such as Wildlights at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, the Ohio Chinese Lantern Festival at the Ohio Expo Center and the Newport Aqurium in Kentucky, which was her favorite attraction.
Kenis won’t be going home empty handed as she will be bringing 10 books in English — which are expensive in Argentina — and some boxes of mac and cheese, her favorite American food.
“I will have to return,” she said.
Gazette reporter Brandon Klein can be reached by email or on Twitter at @brandoneklein.