By Charlotte Underwood
LAFOLLETTE, TN (WLAF) – Rotarians learned about foreign exchange students from Regional Manager of the International Student Exchange Kelli Jo Wright at Tuesday’s South Campbell County Rotary Club luncheon at the United Methodist Church in La Follette.
Wright, along with two foreign exchange students spoke to Rotarians about the program and how to get involved in International Student Exchange.
Students that spoke were Ricardo Eloy From Brazil and Adama Sanogo from France. Sanogo has dual citizenship with Africa as well.
Wright said she has been with International Student Exchange for about 6 years. She said the program was very simple and basically required three meals a day and letting students live in the home for cultural exchange.
“International Student Exchange is warm and personal, and these people have been so good to me. Next week, the main director is flying in and will be visiting with the school board and Jamie Wheeler to honor them for all they’ve done for us,” Wright said.
Wright places about 30 students each year in homes in Campbell County.
“These are teenagers and God made them all the same. It’s brought a lot of culture into our county,” Wright said.
Foreign exchange students said they had enjoyed their time in Campbell County. They noted differences from their home areas and America. For Ricardo, the main difference was the weather. For Adama, it was the need to have a car for traveling, rather than being able to walk everywhere.
“We are really enjoying our time here. The people in this county are so nice and friendly. I feel love here. I’ve enjoyed every second here. The high school is amazing. Since my first moment here, I feel great,” Ricardo Eloy said.
Adama Sanogo said it was his dream to play basketball and that he enjoyed playing for the Campbell County Cougars. Sanogo was even named to the District 3-AAAA All-Tournament team.
“I always wanted to become an exchange student and to play basketball. The English was hard, I failed two English tests first, but my grandmother helped me. We learned some English in elementary school, but just the basics. I’m so glad to be here. It is wonderful to have Ricardo to speak to. We are very different, but that’s cool. We laugh a lot together and have a lot to talk about together. We build everything here with new people. Everyone is so friendly here and that’s so good. We could not ask for better, and it will be hard to go back home,” said Sanogo.
Ricardo said he planned on going to work in the technology field once he was done with school.
Adama said he planned to attend school in Paris to study political science.
To get involved in the International Student Exchange Program, contact Kelli Jo Wright at 423.912.8873. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 03/08/2023-6AM)