Joaquin Ellena from Argentina is the 2018-19 Rotary International exchange student attending Victor Senior High School under the sponsorship of the Victor-Farmington Rotary Club.
Ellena arrived in August 2018 and will return home in July. He recently spoke to the club about his native country, his family and his experiences in the community as an exchange student.
He discussed life in Argentina and provided background information on his country. He used a slide program to show pictures of his home, school and family life.
Ellena will return to an expanded family, as his mother recently gave birth. He said he looks forward to meeting his new brother when he gets home.
Ellena lives in a rural area of Argentina, where his family is engaged in farming. Their main crops are corn, soybeans and wheat. He described his school and how the school system in Argentina differs from Victor. His farm is located 15 miles from his school.
He said 40 percent of the population has an Italian heritage, like his family, and 35 percent has a Spanish heritage.
Argentinians are known for their barbecues. Ellena showed pictures of a family barbecue back home. He prefers barbecues utilizing wood versus gas. When asked about what food preferences he has developed since living in the U.S., he named chicken wings, American burgers and pepperoni pizza. Ellena said pizza is popular in Argentina, but they do not have pepperoni.
He plays soccer at home and played for the Victor team.
Ellena spoke of his involvement in the Rotary District 7120 youth exchange program, as well as his involvement with the activities of the local Rotary club.
The program provides students a cultural and educational experience. Some students in the program have completed their secondary schooling. They take a year off from their studies before going on to college. Some, like Ellena, finish their secondary education upon their return home and then go on to college.
No matter what path the student takes, the goal of the program is to promote better understanding and develop goodwill and friendships between young people around the world.
Recently, Ellena met Silvia Morales Carrasco, a 2014-15 Rotary exchange student from Chile who returned to the local area with another Chilean student, Roxy Galaz, for a visit during a break from their university studies. Carrasco was hosted as a student by the Canandaigua Rotary Club. She was in the area visiting Canandaigua Rotary and speaking at Canandaigua Academy. She previously attended Victor-Farmington Rotary events and was known to club members.
Ellena and Carrasco met for dinner to discuss their experiences as exchange students. The next weekend, they participated in a Rotary-sponsored ski weekend for exchange students at the Swain Resort.