Well, it’s down to the wire, after almost a year of planning for my Rotary Youth Exchange I will be traveling to Germany on Friday.
It’s an opportunity that was first purposed to me by members of the community who knew I was president of Interact, which is a youth branch of Rotary.
Being closely involved with Interact gave me the chance to work alongside the Trail Rotary Club and it’s member for the past two years.
While talking with these members, I inquired about the exchange program in order to learn more about it. Anyone under the age of 18 can apply, however it does require a series of applications and interviews.
Still keen, I began filling out my share of the forms and the countdown began.
Since then, Ray Masleck and his committee members have pulled together the majority of the paperwork and planning.
However, a few months back I travelled to a camp and met with several other outbound students as well as a few rebounds.
It was at this camp that things began to really sink in for me, as the rebound students talked about how their past exchange changed their life by discovering a new culture, and new friends, I can only hope for that same life changing experience.
I choose to go to Germany on exchange because I have travelled there in the past and enjoyed its country-side. I also find the German language interesting as well as its culture.
The town I will be traveling to is called Stade. It is in Northern Germany and about an hour drive from Hamburg. Stade is a small town about three times the size of Trail and has a population of about 45,900.
While I am away I will be residing in the homes of my host families. So far, I have had brief contact with both of them and am so keen on meeting them personally.
I will be bringing lots of Canadian souvenirs along with me to give away, such as Olympic mitts and maple syrup.
I will also be bringing multiple photography books of the West Kootenay to show off our beautiful outdoors to them.
Almost like bringing a little of my home there with me.
As I begin packing two emotions cross my mind.
First, I am anxious. Anxious to leave behind what has always been home, my friends, my family, the Columbia River, the Kootenays, and even the small hamlet of Fruitvale, a mere speck to the rest of the world.
But then I am excited. Excited that there is more world out there for me to discover beyond what’s always been in front of me, and more importantly I am excited that I have been given the opportunity to discover it.
I so greatly appreciate the experience Rotary has given me to be an ambassador for our country, to learn a new culture and create international ties that will hopefully last forever.
Danielle Clarke was a J.L. Crowe Secondary work experience student at the Trail Daily Times who also served as a correspondent.