Anthony Deobrle is from Belgium, Arthur Durte is from Brazil and Gerardo Irollo is from Italy. They are attending Victor High School and playing American football for the first time.
There are many exchange students living in the Bitterroot Valley this school year from all around the globe, including Denmark, France, Kazakhstan and Mexico.
Deobrle, Durte, Irollo and seven additional students came to the United States with Aspect Foundation, a nonprofit student exchange organization designed to build international goodwill and create cross-cultural understanding for a peaceful future.
Hamilton resident Katie Wemple is their Montana coordinator. This is Wemple’s third year as a coordinator and the number one coordinator in the region.
“I love it,” she said. “They are good kids and I love getting to know them all. I love developing those lasting relationships by the end of the year.”
Wemple said her family hosted an exchange student when she was growing up and they remain best friends long-distance.
Wemple said the toughest part of the job is finding host families for students wanting to come.
“It takes about 50 hours to find one family and I go to events like graduations, community events and promote the opportunity on Facebook and advertisements,” she said.
“Couples, of any age, and families work best, especially if they are involved in sports or community clubs.” Potential host families complete background checks, interviews and home inspections. Then, upon approval, they select which student would fit best with their family.
Arthur Durte is from Brazil in a city by the ocean. He didn’t attend the Olympics, mostly due to the cost and the distance from his home.
“I came here for the experience because I had come once to America and I really liked it,” he said. “I didn’t know where I was going to stay because you choose the country but then a family chooses you. I didn’t know which state I would go to.
“It is everything different here, especially the water, plus it is always hot in Brazil. I miss the sea.”
Durte said in Brazilian schools, teachers, rather than the students, move from classroom to classroom.
His favorite subjects are languages like Spanish and English.
“I talk Portuguese and I want to learn other languages,” he said.
He has a younger sister, lives with his mother and has a big family spread throughout Brazil.
Gerardo Irollo, from Italy, said he came to America because he had visited Chicago and liked it enough to return.
“I chose to come here for an exchange year because my dream was to live an American life,” he said. “Chicago was very different from Italy.”
Wemple said Irollo came from a touristy town about the size of Hamilton but it looks much different than rural Montana.
“He’s from the gorgeous city that you see in the postcards of Italy with the pink houses right on the ocean,” she said.
“I miss the sea a lot,” he said.
In Italy, he has an older sister, two parents at home and a lot of cousins. Here he is enjoying participating in sports.
“In Italy we don’t have sports in school,” he said.
At Victor High School he is taking English and chemistry; in Italy he was taking physics.
“I plan to be a medical doctor like my father, grandfather and two uncles,” he said.
Anthony Deobrle is from Belgium where he lives on a big potato and grain operation near a city.
“We make great French fries only they are Belgian fries because Belgian people made them first,” he said. “I like to cook. I like to make everything and new things. I love French food and food from everywhere. My mother would call me a pasta chef because I make my own dinner and usually I make pasta because it is easy.”
He said he doesn’t like foods that are very sweet but, of course, loves Belgian chocolates and waffles.
He is the youngest in his family and everyone is older by seven years. He plans to study engineering in college and enjoys U.S. history and English at Victor High School. His host parents are Ted and Laurie Jolley of Victor.
“The main reason to host kids is the interactions,” Ted said.
“Kids are really fun to tease,” Laurie said. “It was a great experience the first time we hosted and we wanted to do it again. That was 10 years ago and (their exchange student) has been here twice to visit. She made us promise not to host another girl; she wanted to be the only one.”
The Jolley’s said they already love their new exchange student.
“Anthony doesn’t know it yet, but he is stuck with us,” Ted said. “It is pretty awesome and that’s how it happens and it is really a blessing. He puts up with us and teaches us how to play a card game. He has cooked for us and is a really good cook.”
Laurie said she is glad they open their home to exchange students.
“I encourage everybody to do this,” she said. “It is fun and a great opportunity to learn the culture and learn words in another language.”