Meet Elizabeth Ayalew, at exchange student at Greenville High School this year! Coming all the way from Ethiopia, a landlocked country in East Africa, Elizabeth is a senior with aspirations of pursuing a career in medicine. Her ultimate goal is to become the Director of the World Health Organization, and this ambition led her to participate in Rotary's exchange program. Her primary motivation was to immerse herself in diverse cultural experiences.

Elizabeth has encountered a few surprises since touching down in the United States, one of those surprises being deer! Uncommon in Ethiopia, she was surprised to see so many deer roaming around Greenville. She also shared that her experience has been different from what she thought it would be, based on the movies she watched in preparation for the experience. Unlike the movies that feature “new kids,” Elizabeth said students at Greenville have been incredibly friendly and welcoming.

One of the things she enjoys most about Greenville High School is the opportunity to select courses based on your interests. For example, Elizabeth is enrolled in a Small Animal Care class! She explained that back at home, all students have the same schedule and the government determines the courses and curriculum. As a result, students in Ethiopia don’t have any study halls, something she was surprised to see on her class schedule this year. Another difference, she noted, is that students walk through the hallways to change classes throughout the day. Since everyone back home has the same schedule, the teachers switch classrooms throughout the day, while the students stay in the same classroom.

Partaking in an exchange program can certainly bring challenges. For Elizabeth, she’s found learning and pronouncing the names of students and teachers difficult. Additionally, adjusting to the American measuring system, including Fahrenheit, pounds, and inches, proved to be a learning curve.

When it comes to what she misses most about home, it's undoubtedly the food. However, Elizabeth has been enjoying the culinary experiences here and has developed a liking for hot dogs. She has formed a close bond with her host family and is excited about what the rest of the school year will bring.

Elizabeth highly recommends the Rotary exchange program to anyone interested, describing it as one of the most rewarding experiences one can be a part of.