Testimonial from an Outbound Exchange Student
My year as a Rotary Youth Exchange student changed my life in ways that I am still, several years after my exchange, realizing.
In 2009 my adventure began, with my application to become a youth exchange student from St. Marys. Upon my initial application, I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into. I was under the impression that I was going to be spending a school year in another country learning how to live like a typical teenager in their culture. Shortly after arriving in Busan in August of 2010, my incredible host city, I knew that my exchange was going to mean so much more than learning a language and a culture; on my exchange I learned about who I was, who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do. Prior to my exchange, I intended on pursuing a career in the medical field. As soon as I was exposed to a new culture, I knew that I needed to find a job that would allow me to travel and constantly learn about new places and cultures. I am currently in my first year at the University of Ottawa studying International Development and Globalization, and from there I have dreams of working for the United Nations writing policies and doing fieldwork to improve environmental legislation internationally.
My exchange not only changed the career path I intended on pursuing, it changed the way I viewed the world: the world shrinks considerably when you have friends and family on every inhabited continent. I have brothers and sisters in countries that I had never dreamed of but am now making plans to travel to, friends who speak languages that I never used to recognize but now think of someone each time I hear once unfamiliar words, and three extra sets of (host) parents in Korea.
Whenever anybody asks about my exchange, I can’t help but smile as I reflect on how much I have changed as a result of my adventures abroad. For anyone considering a Rotary Youth Exchange, I do not hesitate to say ‘go for it;’ it has by far been the most rewarding experience I’ve had yet, and I can’t repeat enough how many great chances and changes come as a result.
Jessica Quinn
St. Marys student who travelled to Korea from August 2010 – July 2011