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(L-R) Bérénice, Janis Grant, Lori Sweet, Annie-France Le Priol, Faustine Lavallee, Sophie Cargoet, Heather Dier, Jane Dier
By Lois Sweet and John Borst; photos by Lois Sweet and Marg Merkley

On Wednesday, April 19, Rotarian Peter Merkley, and his wife Marg, hosted a potluck dinner at their home. The occasion was the return of a former Rotary Youth Exchange student, Sophie Cargoes of France.
Thirty years ago, Sophie arrived as a teenager, all alone. This time she arrived as a mother with her youngest daughter, Faustine Lavallée and own mother, Annie-France Le Priol in tow.

Peter and Marg have been active members of the Youth Exchange Committee over the years, opening their home to exchange students.

As we have heard from other host families, previous exchange students enjoy coming back for a visit, even when many years have passed.

The reunion

Peter Merkley, Sherri Angnew, and Bérénice
Mike Wilson, Annie France Le Prior, Ernie Sparkes, Sophie Cargoet, Janis Grant, Faustine Lavallee, Marg Merkley
Tanya Sparks, Ernie Sparks, Jackson, Stella , Jackie Sparks

Mike Wilson, Peter Merkley, Marg Berkley, Sophie Cargoes

Sophie Cargoet, and the Merkleys have stayed in touch over those 30 years. Sophie enjoyed her time so much that she sent her daughter Clara in 2015 and 2016 to spend time at the Merkley’s cottage over for the summer months.

The potluck dinner was an excellent chance for Berénice, our current exchange student, to meet a former exchange student along with others involved in the program, past and present.

Everyone was happy to reminisce and hear the positive things Sophie had to say about the program and meet Rotarians and friends of Rotarians who have positively impacted the lives of the young people entrusted to their care.

Note: Our club is looking for three host families. Our next exchange student should arrive in time for school in September. From what we heard last night, it is an enriching experience for all involved.