Thursday, December 6, 2012

Time to Move On

I suppose the ultimate goal for any exchanger is to find a place where you can comfortably belong in your host country.  Once that place is found, an incredible feeling of success is felt because you realize that you accomplished to be part of your host family, your friends, the community, the culture... the country basically.  A week ago, I was there.  In that exact condition.  However just last weekend, a whole new pathway opened up for more adventure since it's that time of the year in the Rotary Youth Exchange program: changing host families.

Before I embarked on my exchange, I thought that changing host families would be a great deal.  Saying good bye to the people who took such good care of you, and then suddenly you're waking up inside a new house with your head screaming inside, where am I?!  This time, there is no young children in the house, always rumbling the house so cheerfully.  Instead, I have one 16 year old host sister who goes to the same lycée as me!  My neighbourhood is completely different.  In fact, I now live in a neighbourhood of gendarmeries - they are like policemen, but I will explain the difference below.  Also, customs of the new host family are slightly different, but not greatly. 

Despite that these changes took action within a single day, the transition was very smooth!  I miss living with my wonderful first host family who kindly helped me to settle in Louhans, but I am happy to also move on and so are they.  After all, living in different host families provide new experiences and broaden my view of family life in France.  Therefore I was more than confident to change host families and continue my exchange happily. 

Now I feel like I've fully integrated into my new host family already, and I am so glad to be with such a kind family again!


I find it so COOL (and frankly quite funny) how I live in my town's "safest neighbourhood" of gendarmeriesGendarmeries are similar to policiers (aka. police) since both occupations are assigned to protect citizens and maintain safety among civilian populations.  (Both gendarmeries and police exists in France.)  However the difference is that gendarmeries are part of the French army, while policiers are not.  My second host father is a gendarme and he explained to me that all gerndarmes of France only work in countryside villages and not in large cities, and it's obligatory for all of them to live in the same neighbourhood of their village.

Even the neighbourhood itself is unique.  The gendarmerie pays for the house and property fee of the gendarmes so they all live in either the same building like an apartment or identical houses.  On the other hand, the gendarmes are responsible for paying their own fees for electricity, heat etc.  Here in Louhans, they live in identical condominiums.  There is a protective fence that surrounds the entire place so it's a tranquil area.  My host father also explained that his work schedule is always different every week, and he must work whenever commanded.

What I found interesting is that gendarmes existed since the Late Medieval (approx 14th-16th century), and at that time, they were cavalryman who were born noble.  Even during the Ancien Régime (that caused the French Revolution), they existed but were named as the Maréchaussée.  Moreso, since the French Revolution in 1798, all single and child-less men aged 20 to 25 were liable to work in the French Army until Jacques Chirac (past president of France) abandoned the law in 1996... so not too long ago in my opinion!  (Thank you to my host father for sharing some history!)


Yesterday, I went to a Rotary dinner night at a lovely French restaurant with my Rotary Club of Louhans Bresse-Bourguignonne.  It was special because the governer of our Rotary district (1750) named Chantal Lutz and her husband came to visit the club!

I was truly inspired by Mme. Lutz when she talked about the importance of keeping Rotary International active and passing it onto the next generation.  She emphasized that it's important to recruit more people - especially young people - to Rotary because right now, the average age of the Rotarians of France is somewhere between 60 to 70.  She shared her wisdom of how Rotary needs to expand to the new generation or else Rotary cannot sustain itself later.  Also she explained that Rotary is an incredible organisation consisted of hard-working volunteers all around the world who take action to improve the world, and it's continuance is crucially important... which I completely agree!

The most inspiring part of her speech was how she exclaimed about the Rotary symbol pins (which are worn by Rotarians during meetings) must not be taken off when the meeting is over.  Because... why should they?  They represent the international organisation itself, and it can be shown to the others who may not know about Rotary.  They represent world-wide teamwork; it's a symbol that's worn by many nations working towards the same goals!  Mme. Lutz explained that we must be proud to say that we're part of Rotary International even outside of our meetings.  Although it may take a lot of work to publicly share our goals and accomplishments, it will help Rotary to continue especially if the young generation becomes involved in it.

Anyways, I'm proud to be a part of an amazing organisation and feel very privileged to be in their youth exchange program.  From the very beginning, I already knew that my responsibility was to share about Rotary among my friends who are around my age, and even now, I am still continuing (in French indeed).  I don't want to sound too pompous, but I sincerely hope you, the reader, understand the importance of Rotary International, and how much it does for our world.  If don't know about it, I suggest you to take a look at it and join it!

Some Rotarians of the Rotary Club of Louhans Bresse-Bourguignonne and
District 1750 Governor Chantal Lutz standing right side of me.

This coming weekend will be another busy weekend, so expect another update soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment