At our District Council Meeting on 13 July 2016, we were given an inspirational talk by Ella, who had been on a one-year Youth Exchange visit to Brazil, an experience which had opened her mind.
Interviewed by our District Youth Exchange Officer, Di King, Ella had last visited the District Council in July 2015, when she was about to set off for her year-long trip. At that time she appeared with a blazer, and was given her first badge to wear on it. When she appeared this time, all the blazer was covered in badges, some from the Rotary Clubs she had visited during the year, and some from the fellow Youth Exchange students from other countries around the world that she had met in Brazil.
Ella described that it was difficult at the start, living in a foreign country, speaking Portuguese, and living in a strange family. She also confessed to being a little homesick. But with school and with her fellow Youth Exchange students that soon passed.
The best time in the year was the time she spent with her fellow Youth Exchange students. But it was her description of how she had changed in the year that moved the Rotarians the most. She described that she had learned who she was, and in the process had become more confident and more comfortable with herself, even when it came to addressing large audiences like us. She now has a second language in which she can communicate fluently, and that helped her gain new perspectives and made her more open-minded to change and new ideas.
She finished by saying the same words as Ban Ki Moon said to the Rotary International Convention in Seoul, “Thank you very much!”