Friday, July 20, 2007

Central States Rotary Youth Exchange Conference

Welcome to my Argentina blog! I decided that in order to get practice for next year and since I really felt this past weekend was the kick-off for my exchange, Central States RYE Conference is the best thing to open with. The weekend began early Friday morning, when my family left almosttt perfectly on time. We dropped off my brother at my cousins' house and then headed on over to Calvin College. Unfortunately, there was a bunch of construction going on, so the whole weekend it was slightly uncomfortable to navigate, but it wasn't that bad. After registration, i met up with some people from my district, ate breakfast, and met the president of rotary! On the left, you'll see myself and President Wilfred "Wilf" Wilkinson!

Afterwards, we went to the opening ceremonies. it was so dramatic! the stage was flooded in fog as people holding flags were raised from the floor, all the while bathed in red light. oh, and 2001 space oddessy was playing. quite... epic. we listened to a couple speeches afterwards, and then met in meeting rooms with our districts. i met some rebounds who i didn't know before. After, we went and hung out with our countries which was really cool. There are four of us outbound to argentina: Adele, Haley, Tom, and myself. We met five rebounds and about 9 or 10 inbounds. it was one giant argentina lovefest! A lot of my questions were answered and my parents were sufficiently terrified. Afterwards we had a picnic-ish lunch (yes, all 1400 of us) and hung out.

The next thing I remember is getting ready to go out. My roomies were Lauren (OB India) and Melissa (OB Italy). We then got dressed and prepared to go dance the night away with seven hundred of the coolest kids out there :) On the left, you'll see me with three girls from my hall: Melissa, Chelsea (OB Belgium) and Jackie (OB Finland). The dance was pretty fun, and I met a lot of cool kids! Afterwards, we went back to our dorm and hung out for a bit. I was all enthusiastic for sleeping, but my roomies unfortunately were not :)

The next day we got up at 6:45 and went to breakfast. I sat with new people and got to know them a little bit. We went to a general meeting and got to experience the Rotary Rap Singers... who don't rap at all! My favorite song was the neverending one where we listed off every single country that RYE sends kids to. Emphasis on neverending :) Then the outbounds hung around and watched a presentation about body language by Sister Mary something from Aquinas. She didn't end up being very... nun-ly, as she flicked off the audience in order to translate international symbols for... well... everything! She then taught us a lesson in personal space, as illustrated in the picture on the right.

Afterwards, we ate lunch, and Adele and I met up with some girls who just got back from Argentina. They kindly invited us to make the traditional argentinian drink with them... MATE! it's highly caffinated and very much an acquired taste. It's also a very social thing, because in a group of people you will pass around one cup in a certain order dictated by tradition and make the tea in a certain way, also dictated by tradition. Sharing that experience with them was one of the coolest things of this weekend. Below, there's a picture of me with the argentina rebounds (and one inbound). From the left, Rita, Kelly, Carolina (IB), Jessica, and Brooke. On the right, Adele is enjoying a cup of mate.

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