Letter from Maeve Heard, Our first STEP Student:
Summer 2018
I went to France with the Rotary district 5050 Short Term Exchange Program (STEP). Unlike the other exchange programs, I didn’t have to make sacrifices with school to go on this program. At the beginning of July, I travelled to the town Maulévrier-Sainte-Gertrude in Normandie, about an hour away from Rouen. There I stayed with a fantastic family who have a daughter named Chloé. While I was there, I got to see Paris, Rouen and travel to the D-Day landing sites by Caen. Though, I had also taken two years of French in high school, being immersed in the language made me nearly fluent in French with just a few tenses and conjugations left to learn in class. 
After I spent a month in France, Chloé came with me to my home here in Mukilteo, WA, USA. While here we traveled across the states and took her to Glacier and Yellowstone national parks as well as Craters of the Moon, which is a national monument in Idaho. Together, we worked on our language skills, her speaking in English and me speaking in French. It was occasionally a bit of a train-wreck, but we always came away laughing. This program not only helped me learn a new language and culture, but also made me a very close friend. While in France I learned so much about the culture, especially when France won the World Cup while I was there as one can imagine. I also got to be there for Bastille day, which is a French national holiday like the fourth of July for us. I also found a new love for different foods, since my French teacher hadn’t covered the unit about food yet, every time I ordered it was like a shot in the dark. I also discovered the Normand specialty, Camembert, and absolutely fell in love with it.