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Baldwinsville teens study abroad

Julia Merulla

Derrick Taylor, left, and Brooke Boutwell will spend one year studying abroad through the Rotary International program.

Seventeen-year-old Derrick Taylor won't be present for the first day of classes at American University -- or for two whole semesters, for that matter.

No one will see 15-year-old Brooke Boutwell in the halls of C.W. Baker High School for her entire junior year.

Both have opted to go on a yearlong exchange to a foreign country: Taylor to Taiwan, and Boutwell, to Austria.

The study abroad experience is sponsored through the Rotary International, a not-for-profit service organization that was founded in the early 1990s to eradicate polio. Today, it performs numerous community service tasks in local chapters and around the world with the ultimate goal of improving people's lives.

Both Taylor and Boutwell have been involved in Rotary activities, one of which was Seneca River Days. Taylor went on a summer exchange to Germany in 2009, while it will be Boutwell's first exchange experience. The two depart at different times this month, and both said they've been waiting to go abroad.

They've already had their three orientations to work out the logistics and help prepare them for the experience. Now it's up to them.

The language barrier, Taylor said, is one of the more difficult things to overcome, but it can be accomplished with complete immersion.

"I remember speaking to my younger host brother and that helped me out extremely, to the point that by the time I left I started dreaming and thinking in German, which is pretty much the ultimate goal of any exchange," Taylor said.

Boutwell has taken German for three years, but the dialect is very different in Austria, she said. She will get an extra boost during a mandatory two-week language camp before she begins school. Boutwell's countdown from 100 days is rapidly approaching, as she leaves August 7.

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