Prepping for Patagonia: Granby teen readies for exchange student year in Argentina
March 7, 2017
A child's teenage years are a time of excitement.
The pace of change that kids experience as they transition from pre-teen adolescence to legal adulthood is dizzying, but for most those changes revolve around freedom, driving and relationships; the sort of standard stuff most American teenagers encounter. However, the changes young Matisse Ciufo of Grand County will face over the next two years will have an international flair.
Later this year in August, the young lady will board a plane and fly south to the opposite side of the world. There she will spend one year living with people who heretofore have been strangers to her. She will have to learn a new language, muddle her way through different customs, come to appreciate foreign food and find a way to see the world from a whole different perspective. Matisse was recently selected to participate in the Rotary Outbound Young Exchange program as a representative of Granby.
In around five months, Matisse will become an exchange student as she makes her journey to her new home in Argentina. When she does the young lady will travel to another famous mountainous region. Her host family lives in northern Patagonia.
Matisse has been considered becoming an exchange student for quite some time. "When I was really little I was interested in it," she said. "There were kids that traveled to other countries and later on I discovered I could go as a student."
She said she selected the Rotary Outbound Youth Exchange program because of the quality of the program. "I really thought Rotary was the best," she said. "It is really safe and is geared around service and helping other people and other countries. That really spoke to me."
This coming exchange year is only one step in a long-term plan the young woman has for her future. She says she is looking at going to medical school and is considering attending university in Argentina. The Latin American country, however, was not her first choice.
"I was hoping to go to Japan," Matisse said. "Unfortunately, it didn't work out. I have a lot of connections to Japan. I taught myself the language." Matisse said Outbound Youth submit an application to Rotary listing different countries they would like to go to as an exchange student.
"Argentina wasn't on my list at all," she said. "But I am very happy to be going there." Despite her remarkable language prowess, Matisse does not speak Spanish. "I just started classes," she said.
Matisse says she is very excited to learn a new language and to view the world through the lens of a different culture. "There are so many cultures that are so different. To stick with just one is boring," she joked. "To go there and experience it first hand will be amazing. I can't wait to go there and have a second family."
While in Argentina, Matisse plans to see the sights and culture but she admitted she is not overly familiar with the intricacies of Argentina. "I have done some research, but to be honest I am just going with it," she said. "I'm not really looking forward to anything in particular. Whatever happens happens, and I am excited for it."
Matisse is the first Rotary Outbound Youth Exchange student sponsored by the Granby Rotary Club in about a decade. Granby Club President Susie Baird pointed out Rotary has an outbound/inbound exchange student requirement. As such, Granby will play host to a foreign exchange student next year while Matisse is in Argentina. Not word yet from Rotary officials on who that student will be. Matisse is scheduled to return to the US in June 2018.