BCSS student Callie Williamson spent much of last year in Japan as a Rotary exchange student.
In early October she attended a meeting of the Grand Forks Rotary Club, the club that sponsored her trip.
“This was my last presentation about my exchange,” explained Callie in a telephone interview.
In a 20-minute presentation that included a power point slide show she told of her trip to Japan—“the things I’d done and the things I’d seen and learned and experienced. A summary basically.”
Callie said that among the things she’d learned were how to speak Japanese and, perhaps even more challenging for a student from the West Boundary, how to live in the city.
“Simply interacting with new people,” observed Callie. “On top of that I learned how to handle situations better and how to make decisions for myself. There is definitely a new independence that I didn’t have when I left.”
As for her future with the Rotary Exchange program Callie says she might one day end up going back down to Idaho to another orientation and giving advice to other Canadian kids who are going to different countries.
“There is also the possibility of me and my Canadian district Rotary kids going out and doing something fun.”
Now 17, Callie is in her final year at BCSS. She said to accommodate her trip she had taken a couple of Grade 11 courses before she left while still in Grade 10.
“This year I am making up for it in some of my blocks and I am getting extra credits for stuff I do outside of the school too.”
In order to continue to practice her Japanese skills she is now taking a language course online.
Asked what advice she might offer to others thinking of making an exchange trip she said, ”Be prepared to look from another’s view. You have to be prepared to be flexible while on exchange—or just in the simple process of signing up you have to be ready to see things from another’s view. Whether it is learning about
a new culture or just a different way to do school work. You have to be prepared to see it from their view or to just accept that sometimes it just isn’t going to work in the Canadian way.”
“There is a different way and neither is right or wrong, you have got to be prepared just to try another way.”