Monday, May 30, 2011

It's beginning to dawn on me...

We went to a district conference in Greeley a few weeks ago and hung out with all the inbounds and a few outbounds for 3 solid days. I absolutely love every one of them and admire them for not only succeeding on this adventure but thriving. It reassures me and lets me know that I can do it too! I came home and wanted to board the plane to Belgium the very next day. That is how excited being around inbounds makes me. And they are all preparing to go home, and I'm beginning to prepare to leave. They all started crying and made me want to cry when they talked about what this exchange year has taught them and how the feeling of going home is bittersweet because they made a whole new life here. They succeeded and now they are treated like Americans. And they have so much advice to give the outbounds that we don't even know what to do with it all. We ask them to speak their native language and THEY ACTUALLY HAVE TO THINK about the words and correct ways to form sentences. It's weird to them when they have a dream in their native language. Imagine that. And all the outbounds are in this flurry to learn the new language that they'll struggle with next year, and at this point we have to prompt the inbounds on what word they are looking for to say simple things like "who is that?" It's an insane, eye-opening, fun, and unforgettable experience to hang out with the inbounds. It makes us wonder, what can we accomplish next year?

I was stalking other exchange student blogs and found a current student from Florida living in Belgium. She copied this from a girl named Renee, who went to her district last year.

"I was sort of disappointed that I wasn’t there for interviews to see the faces of the interviewees after each room. There is so much I wish I could say to them. I wish I could tell them that all the skeptical looks the Rotarians give them is just because they are evaluating if they can handle you as their future child or not and that Jody doesn’t REALLY care if you know all the states from Florida to New York and that it's not crucial for you to know 67 X 3 in order for you to be a wonderful exchange student. I’m living proof, honest! I wish I could tell them that Rotary won’t disappoint them with their country assignment. If they didn’t get their first choice, it’s because Rotary sees greater potential growth in another country and that no matter where they go, they will have the time of their life. I want them to know that it’s okay to get discouraged and have five million different emotions and outlooks on their future adventure. I would tell them to make sure they paid attention during all of the “BaFa BaFa” games because it’ll come back to help them in their exchange more than once. I want them to know how important it is to bond as an outbound class; because those people are going to be their lifeline and will eventually become their best friends. But above everything else, I want them to know that Rotary has their heart and soul into making their exchange a worthwhile one and they wouldn’t send you flying across the world if they thought you were going to fall on your face." 

Graduation has come and gone, and the inbounds soon leave and our inbounds soon come home. Which means I leave soon. In 75 days. And I could not be more excited. The emotions are a whirlwind, but as Renee said, this future adventure will be a worthwhile one.

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