Youth Exchange Applicants encouraged by Rotary Club of Lockport
The following are Reidís responses to an interview recently:
Q: Where are you at in your schooling and what are your future plans?
A: Iím a Senior at Lockport High School. My interest is a major in political sciences and economics with a minor in culinary arts. Iíd like to study at a school in the Philadelphia, D.C, or Seattle area, studying and playing soccer, hopefully in Division I.
Q: Where were you, specifically, in the Netherlands? Tell me about your school and the families you stayed with. Are there interesting facts youíd care to share about them or your school?
A: The town was Purmerend, Noord Holland and the school was named Da Vinci College. It was linked with another school, and they had a combined enrollment of about 1,600 kids. I stayed with multiple families and really enjoyed the Muijser and Klijnsma families.
Q: What was hard for you to get used to in Dutch life? In school, specifically?
A: The Dutch are a very direct and independent people. The schools wonít chase you around if you miss an assignment, unlike an American high school would. Although I never had a problem with missing work in the US, it was different in not having that safety net. Also getting used to the Dutch direct attitude took some time.
Q: How do school systems compare (American and Dutch)?
A: Theyíre different. The classes are a little longer in the Netherlands, your schedule can change daily and if you donít have a class, you donít have a study hall, then youíre just free to do whatever youíd like. If you have two hours free, you can go home if you like. The class sizes are smaller - only about 30 kids were in my class. Thereís much more freedom, but in my opinion, school was much more boring. It was only for the intent of academic learning, and I believe school in the US is for much more.|
Q: How did language learning go? How did you overcome the language barrier? Most Dutch speak English in my experience. Did you fall back on English?
A: In the beginning it was difficult. It took me a few months to learn just the basics. By the half way point I had a pretty basic understanding of the language. I believe it wouldíve gone faster if the Dutch didnít speak English so well so that I would have been forced to learn faster. When I moved to my last family, about six months into my exchange, I told them I only wanted to speak Dutch, so at that point I had a decent understanding. My Dutch increased immensely, and by the end of the year I was pretty fluent when it came to everyday normal conversation.
Q: What surprised you about the Netherlands?
A: How close everything is, transportation and the freedom the kids had, (and how some didnít use it). The economy and the knowledge of English on the part of the Dutch also surprised me.
Q: What reasons can you give for why American high school students should apply for the Rotary Exchange Program. Louisanne Egarnes who was with us from France said that many exchange programs donít include stays with families, but I donít know if thatís really true.
A: Itís true to an extent - some donít stay with true families, a wife, a husband, and kids. I think itís amazing how Rotary does an exchange. You get to have weekends and tours with kids from around the world going through the same thing you did. Also, the families they set you up with are always great and Rotary does a great job with organization of all of that. Of course, an exchange is a experience no matter what, and always a good one in my opinion.
Q: What was your contact with Rotary in the Netherlands?
A: The youth exchange commissioner was like a second mother to me in the Netherlands. She was great. I went to Rotary at least once a month, sometimes more. I had contact with home anytime I wanted it. It felt like they were always there if I needed them and they were there enough to show they cared without being smothering.
Q: Tell me about some of your experiences, funny or requiring a sense of humor about yourself - even embarrassing.
A: I had so many amazing experiences in the Netherlands. Holidays were amazing, growing experiences. There were even a few language mishaps and mistakes that ended up being hilarious - (I canít share on specifics as itís not too appropriate for the paper). My birthday party was probably one of the best times of my exchange. I was together with many exchange students from around the world, who became my second family and also with Dutch friends I miss so much.
Q: Is there anything else you want to share with your peers and the general public?
A: Apply for an exchange. Itís scary, but will become the best experience of your life.
If you or someone you know is between 14 and 18 years old, and interested in being an ambassador to another country through the Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) or if you are interested in hosting an inbound student from another country, please contact Janet Walker at Janet.Walker9@gmail.com for more information. Your completed application to be an exchange student is due by Nov. 6, 2012 but discuss that with Janet Walker, given the short notice.