‘I never even thought of visiting Australia before, but now I can’t imagine how life would be if Rotary had not given me the opportunity to come,’ she said.
‘Although it is very far away and different from my home in Caracas, I have been too busy making friends and having fun to feel homesick.’
According to Rotary International, the 18-year-old is one of more than 8000 students on cultural exchanges around the world at any given time.
Mill Point Rotary Club has hosted Valentina’s nine-month exchange since September 1, during which she has stayed with three different families.
‘My first host family in Kensington call me their Venezuelan daughter and I call them my Australian parents,’ she said.
‘I have been very lucky in all the places I have stayed; they are always looking after me.’
She said her favourite memories were weekly Rotary meetings, visiting the treetop walk in Denmark and picnicking at Kings Park.
‘Over the last six months I have grown a lot and become more independent and self-|confident,’ she said.
‘Rotary has a very important role in my life, without their support I could not experience new cultures and places.’
Applications for Rotary Youth Exchange 2014 close on March 31.