Lia, D2D '17

Dream: Rotary Summer Youth Exchange Program
Hometown: St. Paul, MN

Lia’s dream is to one day have traveled all around the world to meet and connect with many people from different backgrounds and cultures. “I hope to have friends from around the world whom I can visit and have visit me,” Lia wrote in her ABF grant application. It seems she is well on her way to achieving that dream.

In the spring of 2017, Lia received a Dare to Dream grant that enabled her to be part of the Rotary Summer Youth Exchange Program. The program paired Lia with a girl from Finland where one month was spent in the Twin Cities with Lia’s family, and then Lia spent one month in southwestern Finland with the girl’s family. Through her grant experience, Lia was able to build self-confidence, explore the world around her, and identify her passion for engaging with the global community.

“This experience made me think about how small things in a culture can be so different – things that I think are normal to me and life here in the US are not the same once you go outside of the country.”

Lia told ABF that this program sparked within her a passion to continue to travel and live in new places around the world. She is currently on a gap-year Rotary exchange program in Mexico, and dreams of traveling to Africa, the Middle East, and/or Southeast Asia during her collegiate studies in the future.

“This program helped me to become more independent because I traveled back from Finland alone as well as explored the nearby city by myself. I also feel more ready to live away from home because I am confident that I can make sure my needs are met and adapt to new situations. I also feel proud of how hard I tried to really immerse myself in the culture as much as I could.”