RYE gave me self confidence
My name is Phoebe from Hastings, NE District 5630.
In 2017 I traveled to Arequipa, Peru (District 4455) as a Rotary Youth Exchange student. Rotary Youth Exchange made a huge impact on my life.
In 2016 my family hosted a girl from Finland my senior year of high school. Getting to be a part of her experience and exchange made me decide to apply to do my own.
Facing a language barrier every day made me fluent in Spanish. Experiencing a different culture in-depth made me understand my own better.
Getting along with various host families taught me the line between flexibility and rigidity.
Having to start my relationships over from scratch taught me how fast you can become friends if you really invest in each other.
And knowing every day my time there was counting down taught be to be truly present and live in the moment.
I really got to grow up on exchange. I learned a lot about myself and developed tools and skills like communication, independence, maturity, and confidence to a level beyond most kids my age.
“Living in a new country, on a new continent, in a new language and culture, where I knew exactly zero people, was one of the hardest things I’ve done, and yet, one of the most rewarding.”
An impact of my exchange I’ve been discovering recently is my love for travel and the ability to take initiative and make incredible experiences happen for myself. Navigating a foreign country on my own gave me the self confidence and experience to go skydiving my first weekend of college, to drive to Texas to go camping and hiking with my roommate our first winter break, then to take trips to New Mexico and Utah, and lead rock climbing trips to Nevada and California and Colorado.
The same goes for building relationships and seeking out research opportunities, which have been two of my favorite parts of college as a Wildlife Biology major.
I had to take initiative in every area of my life on exchange if I wanted it to look a certain way. For example: if I wanted to find Christian kids my age, I had to find a church on my own. If I wanted to keep in shape or get to sing, I had to find a sports team or choir on my own.
Getting in this habit helped me find wildlife opportunities in college like trapping bats in a mine, recording data on Sandhill Cranes crashing into power lines over the Platte River, and covering kangaroo rats in fluorescent powder to track them with UV light.
My life has become so much more vibrant and interesting and exciting than I could have imagined and I think my exchange sparked a lot of that.
RYE (Rotary Youth Exchange) gave me so many important skills and gave me a boost into the wonderful life I get to live.