Within every organization someone who is over achieving stands at the top and is the leader of leaders and followers. I saw the Rotary exchange president of Rotary for the first time that Saturday. During the morning I woke up with my host parents to eat with them and see them off before they went to work. It was possible for me to sleep in and to enjoy a few more hours of sweet dreams, but I preferred to eat and socialize with my family. When my host parents went out the door I looked at the clock reading 8:00 a.m. I knew I would have to hurry to prepare for the Rotary get together. A superstition I am familiar with describes women as people who need lots of time for preparation and I believe it. The arrival time for my train came and passed and I still was in my house not fully put together.
The event started at 10:00 a.m. and my next train stopped in Verviers fifteen minutes after 10:00 a.m. As quick as humanly possible, I rushed out the door ready for the half an hour walk from my house to the nearest train stop. Meanwhile, my neighbor was driving down the road and spotted me. She stopped next to me as I was fast walking and rolled down her window. In a soft voice she called out and offered me a ride. I accepted with gratitude and sat down next to the older women in her small car. The conversation went straight to the subject about foreign exchange (like most of my conversations). Apparently, the woman's daughter was a Rotary exchange student a few years ago. The car arrived at my stop and my elderly neighbor turned her clear blue eyes on me with intense interest and carried on the conversation for a few minutes longer. She didn't have a job to go to since she was retired and had time to spare. Soon enough the bell started ringing signaling the approaching train and I thanked my generous chauffeur.
The ride on the train went by fast and I was in the Verviers train station as scheduled. No other foreign exchange student were in sight and I started a steady jog toward the Verviers hotel. A voice called my name behind me and I turned to find my good friend Henry trailing behind me. He missed his bus and was also as late as I. We fell into step at the same rhythm and moved as fast as we could without looking more awkward to the pedestrians surrounding us. I glanced at Henry's outfit with his purple and back tie, dress black pants and shirt with his black rotary blazer. I was wearing my rotary blazer as well except mine was dark blue jingling with more multiple pins. I have been in Belgium a half year longer than Henry, henceforth I have more pins through seniority. In the rotary exchange, the students trade their pins that represent their countries and place them on their blazers as a Rotary tradition.
Eventually, we made it to the hotel except the location changed and the Rotary leaders lead us to the building next door where we originally practiced our meeting. Henry and I entered the movie theater and everyone was standing around drinking and eating appetizers. The organizers of the event rounded us up and we overviewed again what we had to do. The Rotary president was on his way and the exchange students lined up in two lines facing each other filling the halls. I was holding an umbrella with the rotary logo in one hand and a hand clapper toy in the other, mirroring the students around me. Withing a few minutes the rotary president walked through the doors and we began to shake the hand clapper toys and put on our fake smiles. A mob of elderly figures passed before me and I glimpsed the short Indian man responsible for us all. The rims of his golden, rounded glasses shimmered as he turned his face left to right and smile back at us.
They walked into one of the theater rooms and the students followed suit a half an hour later. Random people gave speeches, awards were given out, and songs were sung in celebration of this grand event. The president's speech was intriguing and interesting as I listened to his Indian accented english. An Indian exchange student sung a song in her language to show respect for the Rotary president then the exchange students sung "Imagine" by John Lennon. Around 2:00 in the afternoon everyone dispersed and went to search for the free sandwiches, waffles, chips, and beverages laying on the tables waiting for us.
People socialized for a few hours until we were ushered into the movie theater room to watch "The Hunger Games." I settled down next to my New Zealand friend Nicola and waited in anticipation for the movie to begin. Nicola is a book worm and read The Hunger Games series multiple times and began to read them in french. As the lights dimmed, I turned to her to say a few last words before the screen lighted. Even in the dark room her light blond hair still shined and her blue eyes were fixed on the screen when the actors began speaking in english with the french and dutch subtitles below.
Even though I didn't have regular school during the day, I still had to go to my after school french class when the Rotary event finished. Some of my friends decided to skip class habitually; as for me, I love my french classes and I am the only one who has not missed one since it's beginning. I walked into the building with the few New Zealand friends who decided to come and we greeted our other adult classmates. Candala from Chili was sitting at the table in her regular spot in the lounge room. A smile spread on her freckled brown face, causing wrinkles at the corner of her eyes to form squinting. I bent down to bisous her on the cheek. She said bonjour with her spanish accent. I went around the table bisouing each of my classmates. When I stopped near Booton and bisoused him he pulled away a little. He does it, not just to me, but to everyone. My believe is that Booton's religion and culture is strict about his behavior toward people and women in particular. Booton has a shy character and is quiet; it's possible that he hesitates to speak due to his lack of knowledge in the french language like the rest of the class. I have about 13 classmates, so it took me about a minute to walk around the table to greet each person.
The french teacher walked into the room to signal the class was about to begin. We gathered our bags and walked upstairs to the classroom overlooking the town of Verviers. I pulled out my supplies including pencils, pens, highlighters, papers, binders, etc. There doesn't come a day when I am not prepared and my classmates know it. My adult classmates took special interest in me and the foreign exchange students that day because we were wearing fancy clothes with our blazers filled with cultural pins. After the half an hour break period, most of my friends left to catch the bus and I walked out the door after another half an hour to wait for Règine. Every Monday and Thursday Règine or Pierre come to pick me up, but they usually come later and I don't come home until 8:30 p.m. My host mom usually starts cooking within the half an hour since we arrive. It's been hard having to adjust to eating between 9 and 10 o'clock at night and it still is a challenge.
When I finished eating it was already time to sleep. I had a full school day ahead of me the following morning. Every night before I fall asleep I pull out my book to read a few pages. I starting reading the Tin Tin comic series and Eragon in french to improve my language skills. I went to sleep reminiscing about my first and probably last time meeting the president of the Rotary organization.
The Rotary meeting for the President was amusing with all the activities including eating, socializing, watching free movies, etc. I got off on a rough start when I missed my train due to my need to look nice (similar to many girls). The Rotary President seemed polite and confident, even though I didn't get the chance to speak with him. My french classes were a great learning experience like always. As for the moment before going to bed, I read my books and fell asleep.