A Wonderful Learning Experience
By David Pine
The Rotary Youth Exchange programme is alive and well, as evidenced by presentations from two students from the Porirua region who have recently returned from their overseas experiences.
Speaking to Plimmerton Rotary on 25th February, Daniel Pullon and Mihi Parata explained what they had learned from their 12 month stays in Chile and France respectively. Daniel found Chile to be a fascinating country with diverse geography. It is over 4000 kilometres in length, but its average width is just 170 k’s. It is bounded by the massive Andes Mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The north of the country is basically desert whereas the southern regions contain lush forests.
Thomas, Carole (Danny's mother), Bev & Simon Lillico, Danny Pullon, Taiesi from Japan and Peter Lillico.
Daniel lived with a Rotary family in the city of Rancagua which is about the same size as Wellington. He travelled widely within Chile and also visited Easter Island with a group of exchange students. Easter Island is administered by Chile but is a 6 hour flight from the mainland. While there the group presented gifts of basic school supplies to the children at the local school. The school is not well funded and so the gifts were most appreciated.
Back on the mainland, Daniel was involved in many different activities including attendance at the grand final of the local football championship. He loved being surrounded by fanatical supporters who stood and chanted for almost the entire match.
An interesting custom at the college Daniel attended was that for one day a year, the boys came to school dressed in girls’ school uniforms, while the girls dressed in boys’ uniforms. Apparently a hilarious time was had by all.
Daniel said the main things he learned from his exchange were that he now had a profound respect for New Zealand and New Zealanders, and also it had opened up his mind to a huge range of possibilities. “It enabled me to learn what’s out there” he said.
Dianne Roberts (mentor) Hekia, Mihi & Rakai Parata with John O'Connell.
For Mihi Parata, her exchange visit was to a city in northern France called Doullens (pronounced “Du-lon”), which is located about 30 minutes drive north of Paris. She also attended the local college and made many new friends. When she told people she was from New Zealand their response would be along the lines of: “Ah, Kiwi, Haka, All Blacks, Lord of the Rings !”
Mihi travelled widely through Europe. She was most impressed with Europe’s train services which were fast, clean, and convenient. She visited many war memorials dating from the Second World War, most of which recorded the names of New Zealanders who had lost their lives. “It was very sobering, and also very special, to see these memorials so far from home” she said.
In one town, she was shown a network of tunnels under the town which had been built by Kiwi soldiers. The idea was that if the town was attacked, the people could hide in the tunnels. Large numbers of townsfolk did in fact hide in these tunnels when the town was attacked and almost all survived. There are memorials in the town thanking the New Zealand soldiers for saving their people.
Mihi felt the main thing she had gained from her exchange was a sense of independence, not only through being her own person but also through learning to be comfortable with herself. And she absolutely loved Paris! Back home, she is looking forward with great enthusiasm to the next chapter in her life.
Both Daniel and Mihi expressed their deep gratitude to Plimmerton Rotary for sponsoring them into the Rotary Youth Exchange programme which enabled them each to learn about a completely different culture, and to have such a life changing experience.
The club meeting of 25 February was a celebration of exchange students – past, present and possibly future. With over 100 members and guests at the meeting Mihi Parata and Danny Pullon’s presentations were well received, and demonstrated their maturity after a year away. (Thanks to Peter Lillico for doing a very productive ring around.)
John O'Connell with Danny Pullon, Maike Schrickel, Thomas, Mihi Parata, Taiesi, Rakai Parata and Laura Daube.
Bruce Jenks and Richard Nanson were visitors at the club meeting and presented a certificate recognising a grant towards Te Ara Piko Pathway.
President Ron with Club Service Chair Richard Sherwin, and Richard Nanson and Bruce Jenks representing the Henderson Conservation Trust, presenting the certificate pictured below.
Leonie James has written about Rotary’s 109th birthday on 23 February and it features under the Articles Tab on the website.
Pathway Working Bee at Ration Point on Saturday 15 March, 9.30 – 12.30. More details and info nearer the time.
The next stage of Pathway construction is underway and an Opening Ceremony will occur in late April with the function to be held at the Lighthouse in Pauatahanui.
The annual visit to Whitby Bowling Club is on Tuesday 18 March.
Martinborough House Sauvignon Blanc – there is now just one carton (of 12 bottles ) remaining at $170.00 per carton. Contact President Ron and Jenny 234 7657. The proceeds of the sale of this wine add to our Rotary International contribution.
Easter 2014 at Ruapehu. A lovely long weekend away with the opportunity of bringing along some grandchildren. Contact Peter Lillico - ph 233 1281 or email email@example.com
Ruby & Francine attended the meeting with club members Mike and Emma Scott - young Rotarians in the making.