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Rotary Club sponsors high school student's year-long exchange trip to Australia

Megan Larson

Megan Larson will soon trade Minnesota's bone-chilling temperatures for scuba diving and snorkeling south of the equator.

The Park Rapids Area High School student is this year's outgoing foreign exchange student sponsored by Rotary. She's currently getting ready to spend a full year in Australia beginning Aug. 1.

"I'm getting really excited, but I'm a little bit nervous," she said.

After an extensive application process that began last summer, she received the good news as a Christmas present in December. Out of 40 countries, Australia was her second choice and Spain was her first because she's fluent in Spanish.

"I was nervous about speaking a different language," she said.

So Australia seemed to be the perfect fit.

Larson is also looking forward to the warm weather, trying new things, learning the Australian accent and taking in all of the cultural experiences that she can possibly take.

"I heard it doesn't get below 50 degrees," she said.

The 15-year-old sophomore will have a busy summer ahead of her. Although her trip is covered by Rotary, she still has to save up for her plane ticket and a safari that she'd like to go on at the end of her stay.

The safari is offered by Rotary to those who can afford it. Larson is hoping to save enough money by working this summer to be able to travel around the country and especially visit the Australian Outback.

"I think that'll be a neat experience," Larson said.

Rotary-sponsored foreign exchange students are required to keep in touch with their local club on a regular basis, said Rotary's international service chair Garnett Pederson.

Larson, a junior next year, will attend a Rotary conference in Grand Rapids, Mich. this July that will help her prepare for the trip.

What she might not get prepared for is wearing a blue and white uniform every day at the Marymount College Catholic Secondary School in Queensland.

"It's going to be very different from Park Rapids," she said.