Friday, June 01, 2012


Sadie Rose Zavgren, a Rotary Youth Exchange Student from the United States to Thailand, attended the 2012 RI Convention in Bangkok, Thailand, 6-9 May. The following is an excerpt of the speech she delivered during the Youth Exchange Officers Preconvention Meeting. 
When I was 12-years-old, a friend of mine went on a youth exchange to Germany. She came home talking about the enriching educational year she had just lived. I decided then that one day I too would be an exchange student. (click below to read more)

I chose Thailand because the country seemed unique, and who wouldn’t want to be in a country known as the Land of a Thousand Smiles. When I arrived in Thailand last August, I knew approximately five Thai words. When I look back at my first three months living in Thailand, I feel like I was under water constantly trying to swim to the surface to get a breath of air to communicate with the people in my life.
I now have two months left of my exchange year and I have found myself traveling all over the country from snorkling in the south to riding elephants in the north.  
My counselor in America once said that if every person went on a youth exchange, there would be world peace. After this year, i couldn’t agree with those wise words more.
I met some of my best friends this year. I got to meet exchange students from France, Brazil, Germany, Taiwan, Italy, Mexico, Canada, the United States, Russia, Belgium, Bermuda, and Australia. Meeting these people from all over the world has been both eye-opening and fascinating.
My world feels much smaller and friendlier now. I feel like I can travel anywhere in the world and I’ll have someone to visit. I thank Rotary, my host family, my family in America, and all of my exchange and Thai friends who have made my year truly special and one that I will never ever forget. 

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