Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” Well, for Eleonora Bellu, her experience has been just that.

Nearly 5,000 miles away from her home in Seregno, Italy, Eleonora has made her time count while in good ole Hodgenville, Kentucky, being involved in volleyball, cheer and now tennis.

“Life is completely different here,” says the soft-spoken Eleonora.  “One of the major difference is that we have a lot of more services such as public buses and train and people love to walk around the town too.  I decided to come to US because I really like traveling and discover new cultures. My family has always liked this kind of experiences, in fact we have hosted foreign exchange students twice now.”

For foreign exchange students, there is always that fear of uncertainty when visiting the U.S.  One of those fears is whether or not they will fit in with the host family.  Eleonora says, “I have liked my host family since the very first day. They have always helped me with whichever problem I had and they had welcomed me as a part of their family. I have enjoyed a lot of activities with them and thinking about the day I am going to leave already make me sad.”

Clint and Tanya Williams have thoroughly enjoyed the experience of hosting an exchange student, especially Bellu.  “We have loved having Ele in our home.  We all have learned a lot about Italy, her family, and her language.  She has been a blessing to host.  Ele is from the city life, so Hodgenville has definitely been a big change for her.  She has learned a lot about a small town and about farm life.  She is always willing to try anything as long as she doesn’t get too dirty.    Ele is used to having an older sister at home, so living with us and having 2 younger host brothers, has been a huge change.  The boys have enjoyed having her here.  They have taught her about nerf gun wars, getting dirty, being messy, and being loud.  We all will hate to see her go back home with her family at the end of May. She has become a part of our family.”

Williams goes on to say, “Ele is a very sweet, patient, kind, and funny young lady.  She loves being involved and being with other people.  She is dedicated to any sport that she has been involved in.  Ele has played volleyball, been a cheerleader, and now is playing tennis for LaRue county.  When she is involved in a sport, she gives 110 %.  Everyone has been wonderful in making her feel welcome and apart of the team.  She really has enjoyed experiencing American sports.  It amazes us how much traveling she has done at the young age of 17.  She has been to several states in America and has traveled all over in her country.  She is a very independent and responsible.”

Bellu has kept herself active with LCHS activities.  “I have joined the volleyball team, the cheer squad and in this last period the tennis team. Playing volleyball has been fun, even though it was not very easy because I had never played that game before. Cheering has been one of the best experience of this year, I have not something like that in Italy and experiencing it was a great experience. I am liking tennis so far and I am doing better than in the other sports because I have played it before some years ago.”

“Eleonora is very personable and outgoing,” says Tennis Coach Allison McDowell.  “I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her.”

McDowell continues, “Ele started out playing our first exhibition singles. This was mainly because we didn’t have many days before practice where we could see what she was capable of. After watching her in matches, we noticed she had potential. She recently challenged #2 singles and won so she now plays #2 singles for us.”

Coach Terry Caven says, “Elly is a joy to coach.  She listens and immediately applies instructions to her game.  Elly has played tennis previously and you can tell that she has been instructed by someone who knows the correct mechanics for tennis. Elly definitely keeps a positive attitude when playing and when being coached.  Her willingness to immediately apply fixes to her game and make adjustments against her opponents makes her stand out.”

Bellu admits “The best thing about this experience is all the people I met.” One of those individuals she has met is Karrington Donahue who is the #1 singles girl’s tennis players.  They have grown close over the last few months because of their interest in tennis.

“Elle is a very kind and funny individual,” says Donahue. “She encourages everyone on the team. Elle has shown me its ok to lose a match, just smile and have fun. Elle is a friend you can count on that will be there for you and make you laugh. Elle is unique because she has used her opportunity as an exchange student to build friendships and teach others about her culture.”

“This experience has made me grow up a lot because I am learning how to live without my family and friends, and it was not very easy especially at the beginning,” says Bellu.  “My experience in the US has been amazing.  I will never forget my host family and friends I made during my time here.”

Bellu plans on going back to her home and finish high school.  After that she plans on attending a University and she is still undecided on what career path she wants to take.  She is considering a career as an engineer.