For 18-year-old Desiree Midby, this summer is a flurry of activity as she prepares to study abroad next year. Midby, who graduated this spring from Wood River High School in Hailey, will spend a school year in the Czech Republic through Rotary Youth Exchange. 

Through information sessions this year, Rotary Club volunteers helped her prepare for scenarios such as being homesick or getting lost. “They make sure to go through every situation,” she said. 

But Midby still has a lot of work left to do this summer. She’s saving money, will apply for a visa and has a long list of vaccinations. One of the larger tasks is learning how to speak Czech; Midby spends about one hour each day studying the language. All of her classes during the coming school year will be taught in Czech and her host parents only speak that language.


Midby heard about Rotary Youth Exchange a few times in high school and met people who were preparing to go abroad. “I heard such positive feedback for it,” she said. During the interview process in the fall, students were asked to fill out a form with their top six choices of where they’d like to study.

Midby chose all European countries, including the Czech Republic. But students didn’t get to choose where to go. Rotary volunteers made the final decisions and let students know in January. Midby said the club wanted someone mature with a strong academic background for the Czech Republic. “I was selected because it’s a good match for me,” she said.

Twin Falls resident Hannah Holman, 18, will spend one year studying abroad in Croatia. 

She’s being sponsored by the Twin Falls Rotary Club. She’s leaving for Croatia, an Eastern European country, on Aug. 27. Holman, a 2012 graduate of Twin Falls High School, said she heard about the program through a presentation at school during her sophomore year. 

During the initial application process, Holman chose Croatia among six possible choices. “I circled it as, ‘Hey, I’ve kind of heard about this country,’” she said. After going through an extensive application and interview process, Holman found out she was accepted. She’s the only Twin Falls student participating in the Rotary Club’s study abroad program this year.

Holman will attend a high school in the country’s capital city Zagreb. During her time in Croatia, Holman will live with several host families. 

Holman said she’s looking forward to “everything’ about the year abroad, including meeting new people and trying new food. She hopes to make a presentation at Twin Falls High about the program when she gets back.

Midby and Holman are among five south-central Idaho teenagers preparing to spend a year abroad through Rotary Youth Exchange. 

The students will attend high school in a foreign country and live with host families. Leaving dates are staggered, starting at the end of this month and continuing through September. 

During the coming school year, local Rotary clubs will also host four students from other countries — France, Finland, Spain and Belgium. 

In Rotary District 5400, which covers the southern part of the state , a total of 18 students are studying abroad. And an equal number of foreign exchange students will come to the area, representing 18 countries and speaking 13 different languages. “It is a true exchange program,” outbound coordinator Jim Barker said. Students studying abroad went through a lengthy application process, including an all-day interview in November in Buhl. 

Rotary Youth Exchanges participants:

“Outbounds” Going abroad

• Tino Beltran of Buhl — Poland

• Hannah Holman of Twin Falls — Croatia

• Rebecca Frey of Buhl — Austria

• Desiree Midby of Hailey — Czech Republic

• Michael Schroeder of Buhl — Germany

“Inbounds” Coming here:

• Ghislain Moreau of Belgium — Twin Falls

• Lotta Maaria Lindroth of Finland — Hailey

• Baptiste Comu of France — Buhl

• Maria “Vicky” Victoria Signes-Costa Smith of Spain — Buhl