German Rotary Youth Exchange Student Hannes Wiertzema Addresses Local Club

Hannes Wiertzema of Germany, one of two Rotary Youth Exchange students sponsored by the Rotary Club of Los Alamos this school year, spoke about his family, friends, school, and hometown during his September 6 presentation to the Club. Photo by Linda Hull

Laura Loy, the Youth Exchange Officer for the Rotary Club of Los Alamos, introduced Hannes Wiertzema of Germany before his presentation to the Club on September 6 Photo by Linda Hull.

Vice President
Rotary Club of Los Alamos

“Family, football, and physics,” began Laura Loy, the Rotary Club’s Youth Exchange Officer (YEO), as she introduced Hannes Wiertzema as guest speaker on September 6  “These are three words that describe Hannes’s interests.”  Wiertzema, one of two youth exchange students the Club is sponsoring this year, comes from the small farming community of Kirchweyhe, just south of Bremen, in Lower Saxony, Germany.  

Wearing a hoodie with “Bauernkind” (farmer’s child) on the front, Wiertzema explained that he comes from a family of farmers who grow wheat, corn, and grapes.  They raise chickens for the eggs.  He is the oldest of four children with two brothers and a sister.

He is a German handball enthusiast and immediately took an interest in playing football.  He is now a member of the Los Alamos High School JV football team, so be sure to watch for him as a left defensive end, wearing jersey #50.  (German handball is very different from American handball. In German handball the players pass and bounce an inflated ball that looks a little like a soccer ball.  The ball is about 7 inches in diameter, and players try to throw it into the goal of the opposing team. The team with the most goals after two ‘halves’ of 30 minutes wins.)

Although Wiertzema is not fond of fruits and vegetables and has not acquired a taste for chile yet, he has sampled burritos a few times.  His favorite American food, a resounding “Burgers!”

He has already been to Las Vegas, Nevada, but big cities and bright lights do not appeal to him.  He prefers “nature” and hopes to visit the Grand Canyon during his school year here.

Besides being a member of the JV football team, Wiertzema has embraced life at Los Alamos High School.  He is an ‘A’ student in Honors Physics and attended recent Homecoming activities, including the parade, football game, and dance.  

He has also been involved in Rotary meetings, attended a recent Rotary District Youth Exchange Orientation hosted in Los Alamos, and participated in the Club’s Meals of Hope food-packing project.  He is also a member of the LAHS Interact Club, Rotary’s teen service organization.

Wiertezema is enrolled in studies at LAHS through the school year and is currently hosted by Rob and Melissa Metcalf, Rotarians active in Rotary youth programs, including Interact and Youth Exchange.  In the spring, he will stay with Rotarian Oliver and Kateri Morris.  Like the Metcalfs, the Morrises are also strong supporters of Rotary’s youth activities.

At the conclusion of Wiertzema’s presentation, YEO Laura Loy remarked, “We are currently seeking a family to host Hannes from December through February.  Rotary Youth Exchange students live with their local families throughout their stay.  Host families have the unique opportunity to learn more about the student and share their own culture with him or her during the stay.  You do not have to be a Rotarian to host a student.”

Single individuals and couples are also welcome, not just families.  Anyone interested in hosting Hannes Wiertezema or interested in hosting other youth exchange students for a three-month period in their home should contact Rotary Youth Exchange Coordinator Laura Loy at