Soldotna Rotary president Mike Bookout receives a gift from Russian Exchange Student Danielle Glaves of Soldotna.
When the first Rotary Club was organized on the Kenai Peninsula 25 years ago Rotary’s international student exchange program was already the largest in the world. In the former U.S.S.R. however, there were no Rotary Clubs or student exchanges. Today there are as many Rotary Clubs in Eastern Russia as there are in Alaska. The first of which was sponsored by the Soldotna Rotary Club over 15 years ago. Last week the club enthusiastically welcomed home their most recent outbound foreign exchange student Soldotna born Danielle Glaves, who recently returned from her year in Magadan, Russia. “It was an amazing experience!” Glaves reported, “Through the local Rotary Club in Magadan I was able to do all kinds of community activities and was able to help teach English in the school and be part of a whole other culture for almost a year. It was truly life changing experience and overall I had an awesome time.”
Glaves had visited Russia two years prior to her exchange so had a good idea of what to expect, “I learned so much more during this trip than the first time I visited because I was living there with the people and involved with the community,” said Glaves. She said that the family she stayed with was so warm and welcoming that she never really felt much homesickness, “But I’m the oldest of five and I did my brothers and sisters and it was different not being around them all the time. I became much more appreciative of the things that I have now, simple things like shampoo in the bathroom that are so easily attainable here that you have to work hard for over there,” added Danielle.
Glaves says she developed a passion for teaching English while on her exchange and plans to pursue teaching as her life career. She will be attending Kenai Peninsula College this fall and work toward her bachelor’s degree in education and plans on doing further training in Moscow or St. Petersburg, Russia to eventually become an English teacher in Russia.
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