Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Phone Call

I'm vising my Cousin, Aay, in Nashville for spring break. Monday we were driving back to her campus from Centennial park when my phone rang. I glanced at the caller ID. Private Number? what in the world is that? If it was one of those stupid advertisements, I was going to be pretty ticked since I have a tracphone and every minute counts. I prepared myself to give whoever it was a good browbeating in Russian and then I answered. "Allo?" An echoy voice from the other end, introuduced the speaker as a Rotarian from District 5010 who I'd met last year. "Which district?" I asked both incredulous and due to the fact that the quality of the call was not so good. "Five zero one zero." That's my Russia district! Once I realized what was going on I got into business mode. "what can I do for you?" They were calling me to ask some questions about my Experiences with the Rotary club of Yakutsk last year. Apparently the Student who is there this year is having a little trouble. A lot of trouble. And they were wondering what my experiences were. I was honest, but at the same time I felt very protected of the Rotary club in my adopted city. I mean, sure they had issues, but what club doesn't? And they did a lot for me while I was there. I couldn't just completely degrade them. So I gave a few negatives, and then reinforced the fact that other than that the club was excellent and worked really hard to help me out when I needed it. I stressed the fact that I attended the meetings and that when I had visa and registration problems, the club was really good about contacting people to get my stuff extended.

I told the Rotarian that if I could help in any other way, to feel free to get a hold of me. Through e-mail, phone or Skype. I really don't mind offering what help I can. It's part of my job as a rebound. When I got off the phone, I felt important. I don't know, it just makes me feel good, and accomplished when I can over insight and I guess, advice in a way. It's like that's my purpose now that I'm stateside. When I got off the phone and explained to my cousin that the call had come from Vladivostock, she looks at me and goes. "Only you would get a phone call from Russia."

Sunday, March 08, 2009


So I'm supposed to be studying for this huge midterm right now, but thought that I just would take a few moments to reflect since I haven't for a while (Love how I disguise my procrastination ha)I went to a Rotary overnighter last night. The first one I'd been to since I went through my own training program a year and a half ago. It was a different sort of experience. I really enjoyed hanging out but it was a little awkward at first. I did know some people who are outbounds from interviews and Facebook and a fellow rebound who went out when I did was there, but he's still in high school and in some ways seemed so young. Almost everyone did, actually. The inbounds, the outbounds, a couple of the rebounds. Did my exchange really make me that mature or is it just a matter of me being a different place in my life now? I'm not sure. I hung out a lot with two fellow rebounds. One who did his exchange the year before I did, and the other who went out with me but is a lot more mature about stuff. I don't know. It was just interesting.

I sat in on the Outbound training sessions and I was like (and I don't mean this in a bad way) "They are so young in their world views." It was like weird, because they haven't had those experiences yet and so their view on things is just different. They're all excited and full of hope about their upcoming exchanges. I just watched them and was sitting there thinking "Oh my goodness was it only a year and a half ago that I was the same way?" And I think back on it and I'm like yeah I was. Because honestly they can prepare you for exchange all they want, but are a bunch of teenagers actually going to listen? Not really. And they can listen to the inbounds and learn from them, that helps because those are their peers, but honestly, I remember in my first two months of Exchange I grew a whole new appreciation for what the inbounds were going through. It was something at the time of my training I couldn't understand.

It's not just the inbounds and the Rotarians who are important to training. This is something I came to realize last night. Rebounds are just as if not more important. As a Rebound, I am living proof that you can come out of exchange whole and carrying with you a new world view. I am proof that despite the experiences good or bad that happen on exchange, they have become part of me. As a Rebound I am a mentor-friend with stories and experiences to impart. The inbounds listen to us because we are peers, but we are so much more.

Not that I'm saying the Rotarians aren't important. They are the ones who do the training and the paperwork, and essentially make everything happen. The inbounds teach so much to the Outbounds about their countries; help prepare them. The Inbounds also show what happens when you are going through exchange. They are the first hand account. It's just that we rebounds have a special place in the hierarchy of exchange.