As you may know, I am currently a Rotary Exchange student spending my year on the other side of the world. For those who don’t know me, my name is Chiara Rothwell-Ferraris. I’m a 16-year-old US citizen in the amazing country of Indonesia. I have already been living here in Bandung for three months, and they have been the most fun, confusing, wonderful, difficult, and life-changing three months of my life. When I first arrived in the Jakarta airport at 1am on a Saturday night, I had no idea what to expect. And even though my host parents were incredibly kind and welcoming, that first month was not an easy one. I was depressed and guilty because I felt like I had made a mistake. I had convinced myself that all the sudden I really did not have what it takes to pull this off. I even thought about putting an end to my adventure at the very beginning and going all the way back to Vermont. But with help from my host family, my family from home, and the hundreds of new people I was meeting each week, my confidence returned. As each week passed, my uncertainty became less and less. I started making really close friends in school and outside of school. I developed an incredible bond with my host mother. I began to feel like I could say a few things in this new, unfamiliar language. The point is, after about two months had passed, I felt like the happiest, luckiest girl in the world. The real turning point for me was meeting all of the other exchange students in District 3410. There are 22 of us- from USA, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, Brazil, France, Belgium, and Japan. I love every single one of them. We became a family, because meeting them made me realize that I’m not in this alone. They are all experiencing the same exact thing. And that is when I finally felt like I had what it takes to do this. Now, after about three months I can honestly say that I love this country, I love the people, I love when they share new stories with me, I love sharing my stories with them, I love experiencing new food, culture, religion, way of life, everything. It’s truly mind boggling, and I cannot wait for the next six months that lie ahead of me. I still have so much more to learn and love about Indonesia.
The Rotary District has planned our “Big Trip” for May 2016. This will be an adventure of its own, spending 16 days with the other inbounds while traveling around Bali, Lombok, and Komodo. I know that all of us are looking forward to this amazing time together, but is also a weight on our shoulders because of the cost. After this big trip, my exchange year will be coming to a close. I already know that I would be heartbroken if I wasn’t able to share this culminating trip with my exchange companions.
I am hoping that with your help I will be able to go to the Big Trip in May and have my family come visit me in June. Being able to have an amazing ending to an incredible year would mean the world to me. So, any donation helps, and all are greatly appreciated. Unfortunately the exchange program does not allow students to work, otherwise I would be able to raise some money myself. Thank you for your time, and feel free to check out my hundreds of Indonesia photos on Facebook so you can keep up with what I’m doing!
Thank you again.
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