In January Eden Marine High School student Gemma Oliver is flying to Lille, France for 12 months as part of an exchange program.
She discovered the Rotary Youth Exchange Program through online research and has since received support from the Pambula and Merimbula Rotary Clubs. Rotary District 9710 accepted Gemma into the program, and partnered with the Rotary Club of Lille.
Gemma is looking forward to meeting lots of new people and making new friends, travelling and seeing Europe like a local. She is a keen sailor and is hoping to find some sailing opportunities in France.
Gemma has been studying French at school and is looking forward to becoming fluent throughout her exchange. She knows there will be challenges but feels ready to leave her Australian life, friends and family behind for the experience of a lifetime.
Gemma isn’t completely sure what she wants to do after her exchange yet, but she is currently interested in aviation engineering and recently did work experience with Qantas in Sydney.
Who knows - she could be the Australian aircraft engineer that speaks French and gets the Concorde up and running again.
Gemma showed her prowess at the first Rotary Youth Exchange Program training weekend at Tuross Heads last month and soaked up a lot of information about expectations from exchange, how to deal with problems, how to make the most of opportunities, how to be a great exchange student, and to have an excellent exchange.
Her speech at a recent meeting of Sapphire Coast Rotaract whose members are aged 18 to 30 was excellent, and prompted lots of questions from members.
She said she is hoping the experience will help her learn not only about the French culture but also more about herself.
“I hope to develop as a person,” she told Rotaract. “I also hope it helps me get more confident at public speaking.”
Gemma, who is currently in Year 10, will enjoy her year in France before returning to start her HSC studies.