Graduating from high school is a significant milestone, representing both the end of one chapter and the beginning of another. Following graduation, some students pursue higher education, immersing themselves in university life and academic pursuits. Meanwhile, others seize the opportunity to explore different paths, whether it's through gaining work experience or embarking on travelling adventures. 

Sela Flavel and Asher Knox, both graduating from high school and Rotary Exchange students, have their sights set on international exploration. Knox eagerly anticipates his upcoming year in Sweden, while Flavel prepares to immerse herself in the rich culture of Belgium. 

Flavel shares that there is more to preparing than packing her luggage, “It's a lot of research of your country, talking to your host families, kind of getting to know the language [which] is a really big thing, cause when you're there, you're speaking their language for the full year. So, it's really just getting to know where you're going and the people who you're going to be spending the year with.” 

Belgium is a multilingual country, Flavel shares she will be living on the Dutch side, her challenge that lies ahead is learning the new language, “It's totally going to take a lot of time to learn, but I've heard it's a lot easier once you're just like thrown into the country and you gotta figure it out.” 

Currently, Flavel is using online apps to help her develop an understanding of the Dutch language. 

Knox who is also preparing to fly to Sweden in August shares that while he is excited, he is also a little nervous, “I'll also be there for a full year and I'm pretty excited. I've been learning Swedish and trying to figure out how all the accents work there and trying to just piece it all together slowly.  It's truly nerve-wracking, but I'm excited to do it.” 

Knox shares that while he is getting acquainted with the new language he is doing some additional studying, “Looking at what their like cultural norms are, things I need to adapt to and get used to doing while I'm there. I've been doing research on weather and other activities to do because being in school, I'm allowed to play sports there if I want to. I've been looking at that and it's a lot of the weather wise and like culture wise doesn't seem too different from how I live at home, so I don't know, I think I'll fit in pretty nice.” 

Flavel shares that the Rotary Exchange had to take a hiatus for several years due to COVID restrictions and is encouraging more students to join.

“It is a super fun program. I know it hasn't been running in a few years because of COVID, even if you're in your grade 11 year and you're going into your Grade 12, you're thinking man, I don't want to do this in Canada, or if you're in your Grade 12 year and you don't know what you want to do next year, you're not sure if you want to go to university or go abroad. This is a great opportunity for you to go abroad in a safe environment and it's at a reasonable cost. So, I highly recommend anyone looking into Rotary Exchange.” 

Students interested in more details on how to participate as an exchange student can go to the Rotary International website.