Contributed photo — Carli Newman, a sophomore at South Whidbey High School, is traveling to Poland as a foreign exchange student for a year starting in August.

SWHS sophomore to embark on foreign exchange journey

Poland will soon be Carli Newman’s new home away from home.

Newman, a 16-year-old sophomore at South Whidbey High School, is set to embark on a year-long student exchange program with Rotary International starting in August and lasting until July. The 4.0 student is currently learning Polish through Rosetta Stone, raising money to help fund the adventure while also fulfilling her requirements at school. Newman’s career aspirations include working on a global scale, such as Doctors Without Borders or with the United Nations.

“I’m just really interested in seeing the world,” Newman said. “I’ve always wanted to learn another language and living somewhere else is a great way to do that.”

Though she initially thought she would need to raise several thousand dollars to cover travel, living and other costs, Newman found out last week that she was awarded a $3,500 grant from the Sandover-Sly Memorial Fund in British Columbia, Canada. The fund has helped Rotary International exchange students in need with travel costs for over 40 years to honor the memory of a former Rotary student who was killed in a traffic accident.

Ray Green, youth exchange officer with Rotary Club of South Whidbey, thought Newman was the perfect candidate because despite being bogged down with school work and extracurricular activities, she’s still willing to pursue her ambitions of traveling overseas.

Her mother, Langley resident Erin Waterman, will be sad to see her daughter leave home for a year. But, she knows her daughter will have the experience of a lifetime.

“I’m so excited for her,” Waterman said. “I really think it’s a life-changing type of thing.”

The Rotary International program spans 150 countries. Newman is following in the footsteps of four previous students — Sarah Rodden, Anacarey Clark, Carson Keeley Orr and Angus Jones — who traveled overseas with Rotary International and AFS-USA.