The Experience of a Lifetime – Hosting a Rotary Club of Bedford Exchange Student

Ashlee Santerre, Dr. Dianne Bridgeman, and Rotary Exchange Student Gabriel Imhoff (l-r) appeared recently on Bedford Common – Click to view a larger image

Bedford High School has an inbound exchange student this year, Gabriel Imhoff, and the Rotary Club of Bedford is looking for two more families to host him between December and graduation in June.

Click this link to read Lily Nemirovsky’s article about Gabriel, a BHS senior; it was published in The Bedford Citizen on November 12 under our Student Voices @ The Bedford Citizen banner.

Being a Host Parent

Bedford has a long history of hosting exchange students, first through the American Field Service, and more recently through ESSEX, Rotary International’s Eastern States Student Exchange program.

Thirty years ago, Ralph and Jean Hammond hosted a student from Germany who watched the Berlin Wall fall while she was in Bedford. The Hammonds later traveled to Germany, where they sat at the family’s table during their exchange daughter’s wedding, noting that her father had himself been a Rotary Exchange Student.

Last year’s Rotary Host Families ~ the Bridgemans, the Silberts, and the Santerres ~ shared insights into what it’s like to welcome a Rotary student, and the warm relationships that develop through hosting.

Bedford hosted two Rotary Exchange students last year:

Daiya came to Bedford from Japan. He joined the drama club, did the bottle dance in Fiddler on the Roof, ran track, learned to play bells, and charmed everyone with his great personality.

David arrived from Argentina. He won the most valuable player award the Rec Department’s intramural basketball league, ran track, worked to develop speaking skills with BHS Spanish-language students, and amazed his host families with his stellar academic record.

Both young men received ESL academic awards.

The Host Family Experience

Host families do not need to be Rotary members, but rather residents, with or without children in the Bedford schools, who are willing to introduce a student to Bedford.

Ashlee Santerre, a 2018-2019 host Mom, isn’t a Rotary member, but one of her best friends is the woman who joined her family as an exchange student from France some 28 years ago. They have kept in touch over time and met in 2016 to celebrate their then-25-year friendship. “We traveled to New York from Bedford, and my host sister arrived from Africa where she lives with her husband and children,” Santerre said. “We introduced our families to each other!”

David’s host Mom last year, Santerre went on to describe the lasting impression that having an “older brother” made on her son. She encourages Bedford families to “Open your hearts and your homes to these amazing kids!”

Dr. Dianne Bridgeman, an experienced host parent turned program ‘counselor,’ added, “By hosting a Rotary Youth Exchange student in your home, you’ll make a young person’s dream come true, and you and your family will share an unforgettable and fulfilling experience!”

What Does Being a Host Family Entail?

As a host family, you will:

  • Provide room and board for 3-4 months
  • Supervise the student just as you would your own children
  • Involve the student in family activities and chores
  • Enrich the exchange experience by including the student in family, community, and cultural activities

For more information, answers to your questions, or to volunteer to host Gabriel later this year, or a future Rotary student in years to come, please contact Dianne Bridgeman at


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