Exchange student experiences new country, new culture at K-Park


Erin O'Shea

Charlotte Rekers laughs while explaining what happened at the student council sleepover.

Erin O'Shea, Staff Reporter

Charlotte Rekers got her first chance to cross the Atlantic on July 24.

That day, the 18-year-old, who was born in the Netherlands, boarded a 10-hour flight headed to Houston, her home away from home for the next year.

On one continent, she left behind  family and friends. On the other, a  crowd of Rotarians waiting at customs.

Rekers was nervous about the year ahead, but excited about the coming adventures she was sure to have.

When Rekers arrived at Houston International Airport, in addition to the Rotarians cheering and holding up large welcome signs as she walked in, her first host family greeted her with warm smiles and open arms.

The Crocketts, who have two daughters, freshman Molly and junior Christine, welcomed her kindly into their family.

Rekers is at K-Park through an exchange program run by Rotary International, which has operated programs in 196 countries since 1905. About 512 have come into Houston for a year of study.

But 2016 was Rekers’ year.

According to Christine Crockett, the first thing done to settle Rekers into her new home was show her around the house and bring her to her room, which had previously belonged to Molly and Christine’s older sister, who was away at college.

After Rekers decorated the purple walls with a map of the world and pictures from home, the room immediately felt like her own.

“I really like them and I’m really getting to know them,” Rekers said, regarding her host family. “I like getting to bond with them because they are really nice.”

According to Susan Brodbeck, youth exchange officer and counselor for Rekers, her first day was much like that of many other exchange students in the past, though her already incredible English skills made the transition even easier.

“She was apprehensive but at the same time she was very brave,” Brodbeck said.

Her few months here have led to small-town adventures like a student council sleepover and a French Club get-together. Rekers has already made many friends.

Rekers hopes the coming months will only bring bigger and better things — and she  cannot wait.