Looking (way) back at a big adventure

By Rotary International

Katherine Ward (middle) and her daughter (behind, left) in Turkey.

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

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