Hey guys! I hope you had a fantastic weekend. I sure did!
On Friday I took the TGV (the fastest train in Europe) with my Rotary district to Annecy, a city in the Rhone Alpes not too far from the French-Swiss border, for the JRJ or Journées Rotariennes Jeuness. What this means is that all of the Rotary Exchange Students in France came to Annecy to spend the weekend together. To give you guys a clearer idea of what that means, this weekend there were 430 exchangers from 31 different countries! This only happens once every three years so I was very lucky to have been a part of it! I was also very glad to go to Annecy because it is a breathtakingly beautiful city and the mountains are unbelievable. As if that wasn’t enough, the weather could not have been more ideal as we had sunshine all three days, it wasn’t too hot nor too cold and there was not a single cloud in the sky which of course means the only down side is that I got sunburnt but it was worth it.
We spent most of Friday in the train and we had a whole car for our group so it was very noisy from all of the excitement. I love taking the train and looking out the window at all the different landscapes. When we arrived and finally got off the bus I just took a few minutes to take in all the exquisite scenery. The snow-capped mountains. This is the view from our resort:
In the evening after dinner(we ate Tartiflette which is similar to scalped potatoes and ham and really yummy!), we had a dance party which went pretty late so you can imagine that we didn’t get much sleep!
Saturday was the best day. In the morning we had a conference where we talked about the Winter Olympics because Annecy was a candidate to host the games of 2018 but lost to South Korea. We got to talk to several athletes from the Savoie and Haute Savoie region of France who have already competed in the winter Olympics and we talked about why a country would be interested in hosting the Olympics.
After a little picnic we took a mini “cruise” on the lake which was extraordinary:
Okay so I guess there were a few clouds in the sky 😉
There were a lot of para-sailers which you can see if you look closely at the picture above.
After our cruise we had something quite like a rally and we got a group picture which was published in the local paper the next day. There were a lot of Americans there and we sang several patriotic songs including the Star Spangled Banner, God Bless America, This Land is your Land ect… it was probably very obnoxious but at the same time it sent chills down my spine… I don’t think any of us have ever been more patriotic. We were not the only ones, however, who were singing and chanting!
We finally got a little time to ourselves to walk around Annecy. We didn’t get to see much but what we did see was very beautiful.
There was a little art festival and we got to talking with one of the artists and I found out that his son went to school at Temple in Philly. Then later on some Americans who were not part of our group stopped to ask what was going on and one of them was from Pittsburgh and she had been to State College. It just goes to show how small the world is.
Saturday evening we had a talent show. All 18 districts preformed and we had some good laughs. Before there was a flag ceremony and all of the national anthems were played.
The DJ was probably the best I have ever had. We danced like crazy until the early morning. It is a really amazing feeling to know that you are surrounded by so many people who represent 31 different countries of the world. We may not all speak the same mother language and our cultures greatly differ but we were all brought together by a common goal to go on an adventure and discover a new country, new language and new culture. My friend Christian from my host district said ” If everyone would go on Rotary Youth Exchange there would be no more war” I think he’s probably right.
For more pictures from the weekend Click here: