With these strange times, and the club unable to meet in person, we were forced to accept the farewell speeches from our Exchange Students over zoom.
That meant that a large number of our members did not get to see or hear them deliver their speeches.
Please see below for Silja's speech.
We wish them well as they return home, after their enjoyable time with us.

Good evening everybody, it is a pleasure to see and talk with you again here in Zoom. In only a few more days we will finally see each other again which I am eagerly looking forward to. I feel so lucky that we will be able to say goodbye in real life and not via computers what I was afraid of. Luckily some restrictions have been lifted which allows us to catch up. In exactly ten days it is my time to leave Australia and it is safe to say that I’m not ready to leave.

As you probably have figured, my time in Australia has been absolutely fantastic. I never could have imagined that an exchange year could be this good and I’ve gained lots from this experience. Now I’d like to share some thoughts about why my exchange has been so successful and what I’ve learned. Rather than telling about the amazing experiences I’ve had, I’m going to focus on the aspect of personal development.

During my year, I’ve had three caring host families, a counsellor and this Rotary club which all have been so good to me. They all have listened to my troubles, given me advice in life but most importantly supported me during good and bad times. I was pleasantly surprised on how well I was taken care of and know that I am extremely grateful for everything you’ve done for me. St Paul’s school is an ideal place for an exchange student and I’m really thankful for getting the opportunity to spend a year in one of Australia’s top schools.

People often ask me what the best part of my exchange has been and you’re probably wondering about that as well. I honestly couldn’t give you an answer because so many amazing things have happened throughout the entire year. The first thing that comes into my mind is all the amazing people I’ve met during my time here. Aussies continue to surprise me every day by being kind and friendly towards me even though we wouldn’t even know each other.

One of my goals that I wanted to fulfill while on exchange was creating lifelong relationships. Now, one of my friends has cancelled her travel plans just to come and say goodbye to the airport when I leave and I’m already planning future trips together with my Australian and international friends. I also feel like I have more friends here than back home, so I’d say this goal was definitely achieved.

You’ve probably heard this famous quote by David Mitchell, and by the way it’s not Jo’s Dave I promise. The quote goes like this: ‘’Travel far enough and you’ll meet yourself’’. These words seemed fascinating to me a year ago even though I didn’t understand what it actually meant. Now I truly understand the meaning of this quote. I’m aware of my strengths and weaknesses more than ever before and I’ve discovered heaps of things that I enjoy doing. This information is extremely valuable, and it will help me in my future adventures.

Prior to my exchange year I often doubted my talents and was uncertain what I was going to do after graduating high school and this was one of my main reasons to do an exchange. To have a bit of time to think about what I enjoy doing and who I really want to become, you know. During this year I’ve truly understood my potential in life and the future that before seemed so scary has now transformed into a concrete idea that I am ready to give everything I’ve got. I’ve figured out a clear plan how to get where I want to be, and I know that I’m capable to accomplish anything.

I feel extremely privileged to have gotten the opportunity to spend a year here in Australia. I will be forever grateful for allowing me to have this life-changing experience and I hope with my whole heart that you will continue to change lives for the better. Endless thank you for each one of you, you all have helped me to develop as a person. Thank you for hosting me during this whole year, even a pandemic couldn’t stop you. So, congratulations. I’d love to keep in contact with the club and its members, so please, don’t be strangers. Thank you, and I’ll see you on Sunday morning at Bullocky Rest!

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