The following has been submitted by teacher Ricardo Melendro of East Northumberland Secondary School. It’s one of two features written by students who have experienced the exchange program through Rotary International.
I started my year in Canada, after waiting four hours to get my visa confirmed at the airport. Once I finally got out and met my amazing first host family, being as excited as I was, I could not stop talking. I am pretty sure I talked the whole car ride home. We finally arrived in Warkworth at 2 a.m.
The first week I met some of the closest friends I had throughout my exchange year. I was extremely lucky to have Stephanie Shakura as my first sister and friend in Canada. Without her my experience would have been far from how great it was. She introduced me to Brooke, my second host sister, Tikken, Jacie and later Jenn and Alex. Because of these girls, and school sports (rugby and soccer), I got to know so many more people who made my experience in Canada perfect.
Even though it was hard waking up early Friday mornings to go to the Rotary meetings, it was absolutely worth it. I got to meet some really generous, interesting, smart, genuine and fun people there. The breakfast was always good and Eloisa (current Rotary Inbound student from Brazil) is so lucky to get to meet, talk and eat with Brighton Rotary club members the next 10 months of her exchange.
With Rotary I also went on trips together with the other exchange students in District 7070. All the inbounds met for the first time at the Trenton airbase. Later we got to know each other better in Niagara, Toronto, Ganaraska, Cobourg and some also at Camp Enterprise. At the gathering in Ganaraska in February, inbound students met the outbound students for the following year and talked about their home country before outbounds chose their top countries to go to.
My first semester at ENSS, I had gym with Miss Lange, kinesiology with Mr. Adam, environmental science with Dboss and outdoor ed with Mr. Kobacs. They were all amazing teachers from whom I learned a lot while also having fun.
With outdoor ed, I was lucky enough to go on first a three-day canoe trip in Kawartha, then a five-day canoe trip in Algonquin Park with the class.
My first host family took me camping in Algonquin Park as well, just before the trip with the class. I got to run the Terry Fox charity run, something I would love to get people in Norway to do too! My friends and I went on the school trip to Vermont. It was awesome! Stephanie and I also got to go to Vermont during Christmas break with her uncle, aunt and cousins.
Second semester I had yoga with Madame Millington, English with Mrs. Kilmer, sociology with Mrs. Gough and math with Mr. Vermairen. I was so lucky with all my teachers, courses and also school sports coaches!
My mom travelled to Montreal for work, therefore Rotary let her come visit for a week in the beginning of December. We had so much fun! I showed her around, she got to meet most of my friends and host families and we also went to Toronto together before the Christmas Rotary convention.
I stayed with the Shakura family until Jan. 20. Then I moved to Brighton and lived with the Ward family.
I am so grateful I had the chance to live with my host mom. I could talk to her about anything. We went shopping, to the movies, ate dinner out regularly and relaxed at home. And for a little while I stayed with the Sharps, with good food and a beautiful home, and they let the entire Grade 12 class come over for pre-prom photos.
I am so grateful and thankful to everyone who has been a part of this year and you are all invited to come visit! I also got to know lots of super awesome people that I didn’t get a chance to mention. Thank you so much!
(2017-2018 Rotary Inbound student from Norway)