The initial meeting was awkward. That is, until the music started and a universally understood medium bought the six District 9940 and 12 District 9930 Rotary exchange students to a common level – language, gender, age, ethnicity and backgrounds were all merged into a mass of sometimes untuneful but always unified, singing.
This was to be the way of the next 18 days on the Youth Exchange South Island Tour which occurs each November when the NZ students are hard at study and preparing for their NCEA exams. The South Island tour is historically seen as the highlight of the year for the students because they see so much of our wonderful country in a condensed timeframe as a group. This year we joined with District 9930 and the group comprised of 19 students (10 female and 9 male) and 3 chaperones (Nolan, Helen and Hannah from D9930 and myself from D9940).
I could write about the wonderful sights they saw such as the Franz Joseph Glacier, Doubtful and Milford Sounds, The Cadbury Chocolate Factory, Moeraki Boulders, snow at the Homer Tunnel, Pancake rocks at Punakaiki, seals, dolphins and little blue penguins. Or the adventure activities they did – white water rafting, bungy jumping, jetboating and skydiving, but you’ve probably heard it all before or checked out the photos on facebook