Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Karla Pomeroy

Experiencing Worland and the U.S.

Rotary Youth Exchange students discuss their experience at WHS


March 8, 2017

Karla Pomeroy

Rotary Youth Exchange Program students at Worland High School Annie Deutschendorfand Francisco De Miguel

WORLAND - Worland High School's two Rotary Exchange Youth program students have been settling in to life in rural Wyoming.

Francisco De Miguel of Argentina and Annie Deutschendorf of Germany came to Wyoming through the Rotary Exchange Youth Program. The program locally brings two students to Worland High School each year.

Fran, who has two sisters, including a twin, said he wanted to participate in the program because he felt he was doing the same thing over and over in Argentina and was looking for something new.

He said there was another student in his Rotary district that had been to Wyoming and who let him know some of what to expect but there was still a bit of culture shock when arriving in Wyoming and Worland.

He said he lives in a big town in Argentina and Worland is considered small but he noted "you've got everything here, high school, middle school, parks, the community center."

"And everyone has a car," he added.

Another difference, he said is the number of sports and the ability to choose to participate in different sports. In Argentina the only sports he participates in is during physical education. "There are no sports seasons at school, just during P.E.," he said.

Here at WHS, Fran, has competed in cross-country, indoor soccer at the community center and has joined the Warrior soccer team that began practicing Monday.

Francisco said he did not take any English in Argentina and the language skills made it difficult at the start. Annie noted that the school had a student who spoke Spanish sit next to him in some classes to help explain things.

Francisco said the experience through the Rotary Youth Exchange Program has helped his English improve.

He said he has enjoyed the experience, having been able to visit Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone and will be taking a RYEP trip with Annie and 48 other students from Wyoming and the Denver area district at the end of the school year with stops including the Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde National Park, Las Vegas, Universal Studios.

Francisco was halfway through his senior year when he began the RYEP trip to the United States. He said he will have about three months to finish and then he plans on backpacking around Argentina. His long-term future plans are becoming a dentist like his father, or perhaps a cinematographer.

Annie has one younger sister and two foster siblings in Germany. She said the foster system in Germany has long-term and short-term foster

placements and her siblings, 8 and 7 now, have been with the family since they were 9 months old.

She enjoys horseback riding at home and was president of student council, where she got involved with Rotary. Her best friend went to Utah through the RYEP and told her it was an amazing experience.

She wanted to come to the U.S. because of her friend's experience and because she is related to John Denver so she "thought it would be pretty cool" to come where he lived.

Annie said she took French, Latin and English in Germany but wanted to learn more English because she feels that's one of the best languages to have in the future for college and jobs.

While she wanted to come to the United States, she was thinking Utah or Colorado. When she was told Wyoming she looked it up and thought the southern part of the state, which was more populated, wouldn't be bad. Two weeks later she found out she was headed to Worland.

She has enjoyed her experience here participating in volleyball and basketball, both on the freshman teams and then serving as manager for the post seasons. She said she has never played either sport and the coaches have been great in helping to teach her the sports and making sure she is provided that experience.

She said she grew up two minutes from the beach and the city is 10 minutes away with public transportation. While being surrounded by the mountains instead of beaches, has taken an adjustment, she likes Worland.

The lack of public transportation was a bit surprising for Annie, as she noted, "I didn't know Wyoming was so big. You can drive two hours and never get to the city." She said food is more expensive here than in Germany. And, she noted, it took her time to adjust to the climate. She lives near sea level in Germany and it took time for her body to adjust to the elevation in Wyoming and Worland.

Francisco and Annie noted that people are always willing to give them rides, though, if they are walking around town.

Annie said when she returns to Germany she will have two more years of high school. Then she has four months off where she would like to go visit Fran, come back to the U.S. and visit a cousin in Florida and eventually work on degrees in psychology and criminology to work in law enforcement.

Both Francisco and Annie said the school staff and students have been supportive of them and helping them.

Francisco noted, however, that being an exchange student can be hard because students in Worland have grown up together and have their own group of friends. He said he has gotten to know more people through his host families, Annie and being involved in sports.

Each student rotates to three families during their stay, staying about three months with each family.

Both Francisco and Annie said they are thankful for Rotary and their host families in providing the opportunity.


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