2013 was etched with lifetime memories for foreign exchange students studying in Alaska. Memories of their first snow, first wild salmon, first international airplane flight, first moose, first Thanksgiving, first time understanding American English and for Mauro Lotito of Chile his first international tennis competition as “Mauro the Masher”. The Masher took on Mike Crawford and John Pothast of the Soldotna Rotary Club to raise funds for Rotary’s Shelter Boxes that are deployed around the world when natural disasters occur. “Rotary exchange students pledge to raise funds for Shelter Boxes that are deployed during natural disasters such as the typhoon recently in the Philippines and the hurricane in Haiti when thousands are suddenly in need of shelter. Each student makes a community service project as a fundraiser,” explained Pothast.
Lotito is attending school at Skyview High School and told the Dispatch, “When Rotary in Chile told me I was going to Alaska for my exchange I was very happy because I think Alaska is different from any other place in the world and I like it here because it is so special,” he said. Mauro choose a tennis tournament challenge as his project because he has been playing since he was six. While his competition had age and experience on their side, the power and strength of youth prevailed as Lotito took down both of his competitors and won the glory for Chile. “I think the best thing about Alaska is the people and through Rotary we learn that people can help people in need all over the world as well as in your home community,” said the tennis champ.