Juneau County's Teenagers of Today: Gabrielle “Gabi” Botnari

by Becca Bruss - Teen Reporter

Gabi Botnari is a 17-year-old junior at New Lisbon High School, something that makes Gabi unique is that she is a foreign exchange student through the Future Leader Exchange (FLEX) Student Program. I asked Gabi to tell me about where she is from and her at home life, she said, “My home is in Bălți, (pronounced Belt) in Moldova, which is a big city in my country and has a population of about 100,000 people.

Moldova is a small country in Eastern Europe between Romania and Ukraine, it is on the northwest coast of the Black Sea, the whole country is rather hilly.” Gabi went on to say, “I am an only child and live with my two parents in Bălți. I have a golden lab dog named Ray, and he is three-years-old, and I miss him very much. Right now, I am living with Terry and Donna Hendrickson near Camp Douglas. I have two “sisters”, Sofie and Ciera. It has been fun having sisters because I don't have any at my home.”

I asked Gabi about the differences between Moldova and New Lisbon, “When I was in Moldova, I was involved in extracurricular activities such as English and Math classes after school. While I have been in the United States, I have been involved in GIVE, FBLA and I was on the Junior Prom Court. There are some similarities between the two schools—we have volunteering organizations at my school in Moldova. One difference I find between my school in Moldova and New Lisbon is that it is easier in the United States. I have Algebra 2 right now and I know all of the stuff.”

I then asked Gabi about her volunteering that she did for a local animal shelter, she went on to tell me, “For my FLEX Program, I was supposed to have at least 50 hours of volunteer time in the US, but I reached 126 hours. Some of the things I have done include working concessions at school, organizing things at a church in Tomah, and helping at Chasing Daylight in Tomah. I had to create a project that would help the community and went to Chasing Daylight for one day, we had created a project to collect pet and office supplies. I collected a lot of items such as dog food, cat food, dog and cat toys, cat litter, office supplies and money. I enjoy volunteering and plan to do a lot more when I return to Moldova.” I also asked her what she misses most about her country, and she replied, “The only things I miss are my family and friends from back home. I have more things to do here than I do
home, and there is more food here, but it is worse. We don't have fast food in Moldova except for one McDonalds in the entire country—I don't like fast food. I like to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. We do eat things Americans eat such as spaghetti, pizza and hamburgers. We do not have Mexican food, and I discovered that I like Mexican food. I will miss it when I go back to my country.”

Gabi finished by telling me that she returns to Moldova on May 22. She stated, “I am very excited to return home to see my family and friends, but I am also going to miss my family and friends in New Lisbon. I will continue to keep in touch with them through social media.” Gabi went on to say, “When I go back to my school, I have to take tests to see if I have progressed and if I pass I will be a senior next year. I am leaving a little bit earlier so I can go home and study for these tests— I will graduate from my high school in 2019. I plan to go to the University and study business and economics, and I would like to be a business manager for a company. That is why I joined FBLA at New Lisbon!”

*Editor’s Note: Becca is always on the search for amazing young people in our community here in Juneau County. If you know of an outstanding young person who is rarely in the spotlight and is someone people should know, please contact Becca through us at The Messenger. You can send an email to: themessenger@centurytel.net.