|Rotary exchange student returns to Imperial|
By Lori Pankonin
The Imperial Republican
Rosalind Pieters, Imperial’s first Rotary exchange student, returned to Imperial last week, 40 years after she graduated with the CCHS Class of 1969.
She came from the Netherlands for her class reunion 10 years ago, no doubt being the honoree to have traveled the farthest. This year the actual alumni weekend didn’t work into her schedule but she still made the trip to reconnect.
Pieters and a friend, Erik Vermaeten, were guests of Esther Arnison, one of her host moms who has been faithful at keeping in touch. During her year in Imperial, Pieters stayed with four host families, the Bert Arnisons, the Bill Pribbenos, the Marvin Atheys and the Elwood Yaws.
While on a tour of the school with teacher Melody Newman, she was glad to see teacher Beth Athey Larson, one of her host sisters, who was a Rotary exchange student to Mexico in 1972-73.
This is Pieters’ third time back to Imperial and the fourth time back to the U.S.
“I love the prairies and the openness of the country,” Pieters emphasized.
Holland is so much smaller with houses built so close together, and the highways are packed, she said.
Although the school is new, much of downtown remains very familiar to her. High school memories include dragging main, making friends and being in the musical, “Annie Get Your Gun.”
She and Gay Arnison Waterbury, another host sister, met in New York City, N.Y., with plans to see that musical in 2001. However, the performance schedule was changed after the 9/11 trauma.
Bert and Esther Arnison visited Pieters in the Netherlands in 1972. Waterbury also visited her “sister” in 1975 and returned years later with her family.
Pieters daughter, Anna den Dryver, now 29, has visited twice in Imperial with her mother.
When asked her secret for not showing her age, Pieters smiled and replied, “Living under sea level.”
Pieters teaches her home language of Dutch at a junior college. She is fluent in four languages, Dutch, English, German and French. Although she perfected her English while living in Imperial, she already spoke the language before arriving because English is a requirement in her country’s school curriculum.