But, thanks to the Rotary Club of Cleveland one young girl was able to cross the miles and the ocean to experience what life is like through Southern eyes in the United States.
Miriam Hernandez has only about three weeks remaining before she returns home, but before leaving she shared some of her experiences while traveling both the region and the country.
“It’s hard to explain a year away from home in another country,” Hernandez said.
She used photos to show her with all the new people she has met and friends she has made.
“It’s hard because you don’t know anybody, but Rotary Clubs give you a family and a counselor. They give you everything you need,” she said.
She began showing her in action with the two families she stayed with while here — the Tim Spires family and the Coleman Foss family.
There were some laughs when she showed a picture of herself washing a car while staying with the Spires.
Rotary Club President Tim Spires got a bit of a ribbing from his fellow Rotarians, but Hernandez was quick to say, “It was fun.”
“It was hard to have to change families because you get used to one, then leave, then get used to another one and then leave both,” she said.
She said she was glad to have been able to meet both of her host families which gave her the full Tennessee treatment, including the Cleveland High School prom and a Tennessee Volunteers football game.
Speaking of attending high school, she said it is hard to make friends, “but the football game is awesome.”
“In high school, the games are so big. In the movies, they are a big, big deal. I thought it was a movie, only it’s true,” she said.
The Rotary Clubs gave Hernandez and other exchange students three trips in order to better see America — a trip to Disney World and a tour along the Eastern Seaboard, including “Washington, D.C., and New York City. Also on tap is a visit to the West, including Phoenix, Los Angeles and Hollywood.
She said she enjoyed New York and was able to see a Broadway show.
Hernandez said she was excited about the yellow cabs, but her excitement about yellow school buses diminished during her visit.
“It’s not that fun,” she said bringing laughter to the club. “It looks better in the movies.”
She said she would pay a return visit someday and her final slide used the phrase, “Thanks y’all,” showing she had picked up some of the area’s language.
“She has been a joy to get to know,” said Victor Boltniew, club vice president. “Her host families, the [Tim] Spires and the [Coleman] Fosses, have fallen in love with her.”
Spires presented her with an American Flag which had be flown over the U.S. Capitol in her honor as well as a Tennessee state flag which had been flown over the state Capitol for her.
She was also given a Rotary pin as well as a pin from the Rotary International meeting in Australia.