When Ethan first approached me about exchange, my initial reaction was a flat out ‘no’ – mainly because there was simply no way we could afford that in our household at the time, but also partly because I was scared for him and believed it may be a fleeting idea of his that would pass quickly. However, as you’re well aware, Ethan was incredibly persistent in his endeavour to complete the exchange, and I had to come to terms with the fact he would be going – with a large amount of help from the Rotary Club of Jimboomba.
The comparison between the boy I said goodbye to, and the man who greeted me upon his return was remarkable. Ethan has always been fairly confident but the year abroad allowed him to really step into himself and grow his confidence even more. Not only has he become more confident but he seems even more of a positive person than he already was, and he appreciates life more.
He definitely experienced the broad spectrum of host families but was lucky enough to become close to his first host mother, who I believe supported him throughout the remainder of his exchange when things were tough, and I couldn’t be around. Watching him live his life is something I couldn’t even imagine, so it made my heart burst to be able to watch him and share in these experiences.
I’m really glad Ethan was able to do the exchange and couldn’t be prouder of the man he’s become. We were close before he left but we have become even closer on his return.Shellie Shand (one proud Mama) – Mother of Ethan Dewes-Brown (Belgium 2019)
We speak to Anna regularly; she is loving her exchange. We couldn’t stress that more strongly. The only things that have grown more than her language skills are her connections to other people, and her appreciation of the wider world. The Italian culture and Italian food have proved irresistible to her because of their shared richness. She is in her happy place living her best life. We miss her dearly, but in a reverse way we love her more as we are watching her grow into a mature woman of the world.
None of this would be possible without Rotary.
We know what Rotary can do, and what it has achieved in the past. Anna’s Father, Mother, Grandmother, Grandfather, Aunt and Uncle are all Paul Harris Fellows. We have been good to Rotary and Rotary has been good to Anna and her family. What you all do through RYE is important. It changes lives and changes the world. It’s the Johnny Appleseed approach of planting seeds in fertile ground and allowing nature to nurture the growing tree. It’s a slow process, but it’s a robust, solid, non-reactive and positive way of making the world a better place. The world is a better place because of the hundreds of thousands of RYE alumni seeded around the globe growing up in plain sight. Anna is destined to add to that greatness, we just don’t know how yet, but it will be wonderful to watch.
Thank you to our D2050 new friends. Maria-Laura from D2050 has even kindly offered to personally escort Anna to see her Italian relatives in another region. Im at a loss for words at how much some people are willing to to for others they have only just met – thank you.Ian Henderson – Father to Anna Henderson (Italy 2020)