The resilience of youth is a remarkable and uplifting attribute.
A trip to Germany as a Rotary Youth Exchange Program (YEP) participant was shaping to be the trip of a lifetime for Childers resident Renae Anders.
However, the coronavirus outbreak resulted in Renae returning home to Australia from Germany last Monday night, March 23, just over two months into her exchange.
Rather than dwell on the disappointment, Renae, as she undertakes her mandatory self-isolation at home, is already planning to return to Germany and complete her journey.
Consultation in recent weeks between her German hosts and local District YEP officials decided the best course of action was for her to return home.
Renae, 17, departed Australia on January 17 after months of preparation and literally years of saving money from her job at a local supermarket to help fund her Germany trip.
Currently she is undertaking her mandatory two weeks isolation at home in Childers with her mum, Ruth and sister Heidi.
“I’ve been keeping up my German language studies from the textbooks we had at school. I’m also watching the occasional movie and getting paperwork together to enrol in an online TAFE Business Course.
“Germany was simply fantastic. Everything I thought it would be. Weather-wise, it was anywhere between three degrees and minus one when I arrived but moved to a very pleasant 12 degrees in recent weeks. I enjoyed the cold weather,” she said.
Renae was staying with host families in the small Rhineland town of Staufenberg which has a population of around 8500.
She was required to isolate for two weeks in Germany before boarding a flight home. “There were about 10 cases of coronavirus in Staufenberg at that time,” she said.
On arrival in Brisbane, Renae was required to sign documentation acknowledging that she needed to self-isolate for two weeks.
The brief time she spent on her Germany trip has fired her desire to return and complete her trip at some time in the future.
“There was some discussion with my host clubs and families regarding an offer to return to complete the trip, obviously not as a Rotary Exchange Student, but as an independent traveller.
“I think even in the short time I was there it showed me that you need to open yourself up to new experiences. I was a picky eater at home but staying with other families in a new country certainly encouraged me to try new foods,” she said.
“Who would have thought I would have liked capsicum and corn on a pizza? But it was delicious.”
Being at home has certainly eased some of the anxiety her mother Ruth was experiencing.
“Rotary looked after me really well and their major concern is the safety of all their students,” said Renae.
French exchange student Sidonie Sourice is being hosted by the Rotary Club of Childers and she is currently with a host family in Bundaberg.
Childers Rotary president Kerry Smythe said Sidonie had been in discussion with her sponsor club and parents in France and the opportunity existed for her to return home if a repatriation flight became available.
“Sidonie is scheduled to complete her exchange on June 22.”
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