Home away from home
Rafael Castañeda is a junior at Lake Oswego High School through the Lake Oswego Rotary Youth Exchange Program. He's from southwest Guatemala in a city called Coatepeque. His dad is an agricultural engineer and a rotary member and his mom is an accountant.
For the first semester of his stay, Castañeda has lived with Diane and Brian Murphy and their son Kyle. The Lake Oswego Rotary Club is currently looking for a host family for Rafael's second semester.
The Murphys' youngest son Kyle was in the Rotary Youth Exchange program last year in Chile.
"We thought since (Kyle) was back that we would return the favor," Brian Murphy said. So they decided they would host an exchange student during Kyle's senior year.
"There's a long adjustment period for the students," Murphy said. "There's struggles in school, struggles with making new friends." He said the challenge is keeping them from becoming too isolated due to cultural differences.
"(Rafael's) making it to football games and making friends," Murphy said. He has a set of friends through the Rotary Youth Exchange program as well.
Murphy said, "It takes a lot of dedication to stick to it for a year" and he's impressed with every Rotary Exchange student who does it.
"The objective is for students to live in and experience another country for an extended period of time and learn what it's like to be there," Murphy said.
Castañeda said, "I like it here because the people are really nice. I like to hang out with my friends and my host family. I came here because I want to know (about) new cultures."
"Rafael's a really nice, mild-mannered kid … He likes to be active in what's going on in school," Murphy said.
His wife, Diane, is taking Spanish classes at the local community college and Murphy said Rafael tutors her a couple times a week as well.
"Host families get as much out of it as the kids do," Murphy said.
The Rotary Club of Lake Oswego is looking for a second family to host Castañeda from mid-January to the end of the 2019-20 school year. The family must live in Lake Oswego School District.
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