Owen Bjorgan writes from Australia

Student: Owen Bjorgan
Sponsoring Club: Niagara-on-the-Lake
Outbound: 2010-2011

G’day from Down Under!

I have been irrevocably busy lately with heaps and heaps of positive events and experiences!  Oh… the things I have learned, the things I have promoted and represented, the stories I have gained!  This is literally the TIME of my LIFE!

My counselor, Stuart is a member of the Dubbo West Rotary Club and owns a major plumbing/homeware store. I always have Stuart within a phone call, Rotary meeting or even a bike ride away. I see him on average about once a week.

My present host family, Lance and Jo, have taken me under their wing. They live in Dubbo West in a rather elegant-looking neighbourhood that is near to the Macquarie River, the Dubbo Golf Course and some “Outback” countryside. I am always keen to participate in family activities and am constantly volunteering to help out or join in. They have been excellent at making me feel welcome and even claim to say “I’m like their 2nd son” which is a huge compliment! They have two kids but both of them are grown-up and have moved on and started their own families. Lance and Jo adore the outdoors and getting around which works out splendidly for me and they as well. I have been taken all over New South Wales and have had some amazing experiences because of them. I thank them nearly every day for that out of appreciation.

On the first day of school, I offered to go around to each classroom and give a brief stand-up talk and slide-show presentation about my country, my town, my life and Rotary. I also did some public speeches on improvisation in front of the school, in front of organizations and in front of various clubs in my area of Australia. Some other presentations include ones I have done for each host parent, the Rotary Club, The Distance Education Australia and the new mates.

I attend each and every Rotary Club meeting. The Rotary meetings in my host club are lively and often hilarious as well. There are some crazy Aussies over here, of all ages! This is also a chance to get to know all of the Rotarians to the best of my ability, ask the club questions, volunteer to participate, tell them about my latest adventures and also get invitations to go and do something. I have helped out with Rotary-based activities such as fundraising and promoting the club within the community and elsewhere. At some of these functions, I executed jobs such as selling tickets, preparing food and serving beer even! On more personal time, many Rotarians have kindly introduced me to new activities or have taken me to interesting new places. I have been bush camping, outback hiking, teaching children, exploring new areas and I have been knee-deep in honey and mud with bee keeping!

I have made plenty of new mates at school and a small handful of which are what I’d consider my new ‘best friends’ for my time being here. I already can sense I will have some lifelong connections here. I have been training for rugby and will play soccer as well. Literally, almost every day, I do something after school with some mates I have met. I have a variety of friends, too, so I hang out with all the different groups at different times and generally have a blast! River rope swings, pool sessions, bush camping, parties … good times all around!

The only concern I may have is you may want to ship over some tissues for the end of July. I will surely have a shortage of them when I am standing at the airport!

And finally, THANK YOU and my sponsoring Rotary Club for all of this. I have been living my dream and living my life with unaltered happiness since I have been here and you all at home have made this very possible. An inexplicably huge thank you to all of you, I really appreciate your efforts for this program and in essence, you have all helped shape my life and me as a person. Just consider that!!

Owen in Australia