Shepard to be foreign exchange student
By Bert Lehman
Kelly Shepard was first introduced to a foreign exchange student’s life when she was around seven years old.
She wasn’t the foreign exchange student, rather she was part of the family that hosted a foreign exchange student from Germany.
“He was like my big brother,” Shepard said. “It was so amazing.”
Since then, the Shepard family has been a host family for foreign exchange students from France, Thailand, and Chili. This school year the Shepards are hosting two foreign exchange students, one from Spain and one from Japan.
Shepard said being around so many foreign exchange students increased her desire to become one herself. She first began thinking of becoming one when she was in seventh grade.
Dawn Shepard, Kelly’s mother, said she knew it was Kelly’s goal to become a foreign exchange student since the family hosted its first student.
“Each year she gets another foreign exchange student. She helps pick them out. We learn from what they do,” Dawn said. “She just wants to travel and experience this and it’s a great opportunity.”
Dawn admitted it will be difficult while Kelly is gone.
“I’m used to being the mom and having the kids here, knowing they are safe here because I’m taking care of them,” Dawn said. “But now I have to relinquish that to somebody else, so it makes me sick in the pit of my stomach. It’s not an easy thing to do but I wouldn’t deny her the chance to do this.”
Kelly’s dad, Mark, added, “We always said we didn’t know how somebody could let their kid go for 11 months and now it’s our turn. I traveled to Europe a couple of times when I was in high school and it’s just so wonderful to see the other side of the world. I’m so happy that she can do it.”
Kelly said she appreciates the support of her parents.
“They’ve always been really supportive of this because they know it’s something that I’ve wanted to do since seventh grade,” Kelly said.
Throughout the process of becoming a foreign exchange student, Kelly said she has worked with the Clintonville Rotary Club. She describes the rotary club as her “support group.”
In October Kelly attended a conference where she received her application. She said the first part of the application was about 10 pages, with the second part 15-20 pages. After completing the application, she had to write an essay about herself. The process also included reading two books.
Kelly did have some input into choosing the country she wanted to be a foreign exchange student in. She said she could accept or reject countries from a list of around 40 countries. She had to accept at least 12 countries.
“I accepted most of them from South America,” Kelly said. “I had quite a few from Europe and two from Asia.”
Argentina and Peru were at the top of her list. In January Kelly was notified she will be going to Argentina.
What was Kelly’s reaction when she found out she would be going to Argentina?
“I cried. I cried a lot. I was in the public library and I started crying,” Kelly said. “It was just so amazing. It was right where I wanted to be. I’ve been waiting for this since October.”
Kelly, currently a sophomore at Clintonville High School, said she hopes to see the ocean and cool animals while in Argentina.
She also knows she has to brush up on speaking Spanish.
She also plans to create a PowerPoint presentation about the culture in the United States and in Clintonville.
To help offset the costs of being a foreign exchange student, Kelly and her family and friends held a “Ladies Day Out” fundraiser on Jan. 23.
Dawn said they received a great response from the public, with 53 people showing up to make crafts.
Kelly said she will leave for Argentina in early August.
She added that she feels that being part of a foreign exchange student host family will help prepare her for some of the struggles all foreign exchange students go through.
“I’m very nervous, but it’s an excited nervous,” Kelly said.