Katherine Ward (middle) and her daughter (behind, left) in Turkey.
By Katherine Ward
Thirty years ago, at the age of 18, I started a grand adventure and boarded a plane on my own toward Istanbul, Turkey. I was headed off on a yearlong Rotary Youth Exchange.
Before I left, I attended several camps that prepared us for culture shock and gave us a general sense of some of the changes we could expect. My high school wouldn’t accept any credits from Turkey, so I had accelerated my course schedule, completing all but one required course to graduate.
I spoke absolutely no Turkish but, despite my struggles with language learning at the beginning, my host families were wonderful. They took in a scared, noncommunicative teenager and showered me with affection, kind concern, and caring. They were hard to leave at the end of the year. One of my host fathers even made a special show of sending me home with the keys to the house, so I knew I’d always have a home there. I still have them, to this day.
Holidays were odd. For Halloween, the other exchange students and I carved a watermelon during lunch break at school. We skipped school on what would …read more
Source:: Rotary International Blog