The Dryden Observer

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Wood recounts year on youth exchange in Brazil

By Michael Christianson

Sean Wood is happy to be home and looking forward to hockey and skiing season to start up again. Wood is back home in Dryden after spending 10 months in Brazil as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange and he was the guest speaker at the group’s meeting last week.

Wood had the crowd laughing and hanging on his every word so that they could get a glimpse into his adventures.

Wood lived outside of Sao Paulo for his exchange in a smaller district which other students wondered why he would like living where he was but Wood found it smaller like home and the trip to the city was only half an hour, which, he laughed, was a long commute for them but just another drive to Vermilion Bay in his mind.

An exchange for any young student is a life changing and eye opening experience as you learn about the world and yourself, Wood was no exception; he learned how multicultural Brazil is and he learned a lot about himself as well. He said that when communication is cut that a lot more thoughts are reflected internally such as ‘what will people think of my Portuguese when I try to talk to them?’ but Wood kept on, learned the language and learned even more about who he is.

“I read an article just the other day of how people who are bilingual tend to change personalities as they switch languages and it’s very true,” said Wood during his speech. “When I was speaking Portuguese, especially to my host family and to Rotarians and to my friends that were Brazilian, I noticed myself, not to say I’m a rude person, but I was a lot more polite when I was speaking Portuguese because I saw myself as more of a guest there. I saw myself as someone who shouldn’t be disrespecting the language they are teaching to me.”

Wood spent all of his time on exchange in Brazil, including a trip to the Amazon and he says he cannot recommend an exchange enough. He said he knows the task seems daunting at first but that if you are interested in travel you should take the first step.

For more information about Rotary Youth Exchange and how to be a part of the program contact Youth Exchange Counsellor Sally Sipos.

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