Rotary Exchange Student Olivia Hsieh Of Taiwan Addresses Local Rotarians

Rotary Youth Exchange student Olivia Hsieh, studying at LAHS this school year, recently told local Rotarians about her life in Taiwan. Photo by Linda Hull

Vice President
Rotary Club of Los Alamos

On September 27, members of the Rotary Club of Los Alamos were captivated by the enthusiasm of guest speaker Olivia Hsieh, one of two youth exchange students the Club is sponsoring this year.  Hsieh comes from Taipei, the large and bustling capital city of Taiwan, where her father is a telecommunications engineer, and her mother a docent at the National Taiwan University Museum of Zoology.  Her older sister is enrolled in college.  

Hsieh is familiar with big-city life with conveniences of supermarkets, restaurants, and retail stores nearby or easily accessible by mass transit.  She has traveled with her family to Japan, China, Singapore, and the United States.  She is an avid outdoor sports enthusiast, frequently biking, hiking, and climbing in Taiwan’s mountainous landscapes.  One of her favorite activities is river tracing, which involves trekking, bouldering, wading, sliding, and sometimes swimming.   Smithsonian Magazine author Jennifer Nalewicki describes river tracing as one of Taiwan’s most popular sports.  “Also known as canyoning, river tracing is like hiking, but better:  Rather than sticking to a well-groomed trail, river tracing expeditions involve scaling boulders, wading across currents of water and scurrying through caves inhabited by bats. In other words, these day hikes are not for the faint of heart.”

Hsieh admits that hamburgers are her favorite food here, and she could scarcely say “No” quickly enough when asked about green chile.  “I don’t like spicy food,” she remarked, “but I do love steak and meat!”

Hsieh, who has a background in piano and double bass, has joined the Los Alamos High School choir and is also a member of the LAHS Robotics Club.  She is embracing other aspects of life at Los Alamos High School, recently attending Homecoming activities.  She also enjoys reading, drawing, and theater.

Hsieh has 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.  She is also a member of the LAHS Interact Club, Rotary’s teen service organization.   She spent time at Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque with other Rotary Youth exchange students who have come from Germany, Japan, France, Finland, and Switzerland to study for a year in Rotary District 5520, all of New Mexico and west Texas.

Hsieh is currently hosted by Linda and Tim Bullock.  Linda is proposed for Rotary membership; Tim is the Rotary Club’s President-elect through June 30th when he moves into the position of President.  Both are strong advocates of Rotary’s youth programs, including international youth exchange.

The Club’s Youth Exchange Officer Laura Loy shares, “We are always interested in seeking families to host our Rotary Youth Exchange student.  These inbound 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 Rotary Youth Exchange students for a three-month period in their home should contact Rotary Youth Exchange Coordinator Laura Loy at