Posted by Susan Colville-Hall on Apr 13, 2020
Zoé Mayeur, from Brussels, Belgium, spent the 2019-2020  exchange year with the Rotary Club of Akron.  Because of the current Covid-19 pandemic, she left April 5 to return home to ride out the rest of this storm with her parents and older sister Fanny.  In her own words, “The trip was not easy but I made it home.  I am quarantining with my parents and my sister so I enjoy my time with them, we go on bike rides, we cook, we talk.”   Like most people in the time of Covid-19, her parents are not working.  Normally, Zoe’s mother serves as a Federal Ombudsman for the Belgium Parliament.  Her father is a criminologist in charge of helping prisoners who are released find jobs and then he follows up on them in their work. 
While in Akron, Zoé was enrolled in classes at Stow Munroe Falls High School.    Eager to try something new, she started playing the clarinet in the marching band and participated in cross-country and track and field. She said she“likes playing on a team because of the team spirit.”   Zoé especially enjoyed marching in the Brown’s Game in the fall when the SMFHS band played at halftime.  She now understands Americans’ enthusiasm for football! Due to her curiosity and eagerness to discover new things, Zoé made friends in her classes, in the band, in the SMFHS Interact Club and in her sports.  Consequently, she was able to take advantage of many opportunities to experience American culture, through Rotary, her school and her host family.
Her host parents, Jen and Richard Carroll, generously opened their doors and hearts to Zoé and treated her like one of their own children, of which they have two - Audrey and David.   Audrey was our Outbound Exchange Student to Germany last year.   Zoé spent a lot of valuable time with her new family and celebrated the ordinary things of American life.   One of her favorite experiences was going to Puerto Rico during Winter Break with her family to enjoy the warmth of one of the U.S.’s Caribbean territories.  And life was not too boring after the orderfor “shelter -in-place” was issued.  The kids enjoyed playing games, watching movies and cooking.
District 6630 Exchange students have been using Zoom to connect for the last 3 weeks, thanks to Shelia Hedrick who connects us all.  Before her departure, Zoé took time to demonstrate a no-cook dessert recipe made with Belgium cookies (biscuits) and whipped cream, it was so delicious looking!!! She “was happy to share one more thing about [her] before leaving.”  Wish we could have tasted it!  
Zoé has been a wonderful ambassador for Belgium and a delightful visitor to the U.S.  Like Elin, she was so looking forward to the Eastern trip to visit Boston, New York and Washington, D.C. in March, and to meet other RYE students.  A disappointed ambassador to say the least, Zoé took the cancellation in stride as well as news of no summer Western Trip to Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon, Colorado and California, understanding that personal safety comes first.  So Zoé, too, will miss so many of the spring cultural events such as Prom, our Rotary 6630 Conference, and graduation as well as summer prospects of fun in the sun. 
Zoé’s “goal this year was to be immersed in a new culture with people who don’t necessarily think like [her] and learn from them and to share [her] Belgium culture with them.  We can say that she more than accomplished this goal.  And she is still eager to help us learn more about Belgium.  We hope to connect with Zoé using Zoom one day soon to see her smiling face and listen to her charming voice again and learn more about Belgium culture.  Her greeting to us: “I miss you and the rest so much... Stay safe!”