Rotary Exchange brings students from across the globe |

Rotary Exchange brings students from across the globe

Coal Ridge High school students Connor Detlefsen (left) and Abby Hutchinson (right) stand with Kaspar Zizys, a Lithuanian high school junior studying at Coal Ridge as part of the Rotary international Exchange Program.
Kara Warby / Citizen Telegram Contributor |

Traveling to America is a dream for many people across the globe, and the Rotary international Exchange Program is giving Lithuanian high school junior Kaspar Zizys a firsthand experience of the benefits and challenges of traveling abroad.

According to Zizys, inspiration to participate in the program came from watching his friend’s ventures.

“My friend went to Brazil, and I just saw her having fun,” Zizys said.

Since arriving in Colorado in August, Zizys is only in the beginning stages of his traveling and study at Coal Ridge High School, but he had only good things to say about his teachers thus far.

“I think that I was forced into a lot of situations where I had to be independent … now I’m not as freaked out whenever stressful situations come.”

Abby Hutchinson

“The teachers here are always smiling,” said Zizys. “They’re happy.”

Zizys appears to be adjusting to American life, and he said his biggest benefits come from furthering his education and the development of new relationships.

In addition to liking his new friends and school, Zizys has been able to enjoy the beauty of western Colorado through a popular sporting activity.

“Mountain bike riding,” he said. “[in] Cherry Creek, then Fruita … ”

Though most things have been going smoothly for Zizys, it hasn’t been entirely easy for him. His challenges, he said, come from two main subjects in school.

“My biggest challenge was to learn U.S. history and English,” Zizys said.

With 1.2 million members worldwide, the Rotary International Exchange Program has been in place for more 100 years. However, according to Zizys’ U.S. legal guardian, Kaaren Peck, the Rifle group has been participating in the program for only about 20 years.

Though Zizys is the only exchange student for the Rifle Rotary this year, Coal Ridge High School sent two of their very own overseas in 2015. Junior Connor Detlefsen went to Taiwan, and senior Abby Hutchinson had the opportunity to study in Denmark. Detlefsen was able to broaden his horizons after he was selected to stay in Taipei, the capital city.

“I wanted to go to Spain … but then I got chosen to go to Taiwan,” Detlefsen said. “It’s such an incredible place to experience. Give everything a chance.”

The challenges of studying in Denmark helped Hutchinson learn the value of personal independence and gain life skills in stress management.

“I think that I was forced into a lot of situations where I had to be independent … now I’m not as freaked out whenever stressful situations come,” Hutchinson said.

Zizys is currently living with Hutchinson and her family as the first of three host families he will reside with for the duration of his stay in Colorado. While he does have a third family scheduled, he is looking for a second family to host him beginning in December until early spring next year.

For more information on how to host in the International Rotary Exchange Program, visit the program’s website:

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