From B'ville to Berne

India Dancil's knack for languages has led her to Switzerland.

The 16-year-old Baker graduate left Aug. 2 for a 51-week journey as a foreign exchange student in the Rotary International exchange program. Having completed Spanish 4 and French 3 while at Baker, Dancil said Rotary leaders chose Switzerland for her because the country is trilingual with residents speaking French, Italian and German.

"They thought (Switzerland) would be a better challenge for me," Dancil said.

With a long list of countries to choose from, students selected to participate in the Rotary International exchange program are told to choose the top five countries they would like to go to. Even though she chose Spain, Italy, Germany, France and Venezuela as her top five, Dancil wasn't disappointed to live in Switzerland for a year where she will attend a school that speaks two languages -- French and German.

"I love languages and I pick them up so easily," she said about the challenge.

Change of heart

Dancil's trip wasn't always a sure thing. At first, she had no interest in becoming an exchange student.

While attending a Rotary leadership camp as a representative of Baldwinsville, Dancil stood out as a natural leader and was approached about the exchange program.

"One of the guys there said I had spunk and asked if I wanted an appointment," she said.

Dancil declined because she didn't want to be away from her family for that long, nor did she want to miss out on language trips offered during spring breaks through Baker High School.

However, after participating in the People to People Ambassador Program where she spent 18 days in Australia, Dancil discovered a passion for travel.

"I changed my mind really quickly," she said.

Ambitious individual

Dancil transferred to Baldwinsville in sixth grade from a Syracuse City school, which has since closed.

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