Some Sarnians are content if their hometown is their whole world.
But at least one local teen says it’s important to explore the world beyond her hometown.
That’s why 17-year-old Alysha Bork is a traveller.
This week, she left for Denmark on a year-long Rotary exchange that will take her away from all that is familiar. She’ll spend her senior year of high school meeting people half way across the world and learning to appreciate another culture.
“Yes, a year away from home and family and all my friends seems like a long time,” said Bork as she finished up her packing. “At first I thought, I’m going to miss my prom and my grad.
“But I got thinking that’s only two days of my life and this exchange will benefit me for a lifetime.”
The St. Clair Secondary student left for Copenhagen on Saturday, then continued on to the city of Holbaek just 30 miles away. She’ll stay with three different families during the year, hosted by the Holbaek Rotary Klub while the Sarnia Rotary Club sponsors her.
This isn’t the first time Bork has gone far afield.
“I’ve been to South America on family vacations,” she said. And last year, she was part of a youth leadership initiative for three weeks in Africa.
Her family’s influence has a lot to do with her desire to see the world, Bork said.
“My father, Bob, was a Rotary exchange student when he was in high school and he still keeps in touch with his host family in Brazil.
“There’s actually eight other aunts, uncles, and cousins in my family that have been on a Rotary exchange.
“I’m grateful to grow up in a family that travels. It makes me realize there’s a life outside Canada and the U.S. There’s culture to experience and languages to learn.”
To be chosen for the Rotary exchange, Bork had to complete a series of interviews, culminating in a final one in London. She was asked to pick from more than 50 potential host countries and list the ones she’d prefer.
Denmark was her second pick, just behind the Netherlands.
“I’ve never been to Europe and that’s partially why I wanted to be involved in the exchange,” she said. “I am so excited.
“I’ve heard Denmark is the happiest country in the world.”
Learn more about the Rotary Club of Sarnia and its youth exchange program for 15 –19 year olds. Visit www.rotarysarnia.com or call 519-490-1066.
– Cathy Dobson