by Brittany Boor
On Wednesday, May 29, the Rotary Club of North Renfrew (Deep River) hosted a talk which was given by exchange student Marlen Mosen from Switzerland, who spent this past year attending Mackenzie Community School.
Marlen gave this talk in order to share her experiences with the community and give more insight to what the Rotary exchange program entails.
Marlen began her talk by highlighting the times she spent with her first host family – Anne and Doug Davies.
During her time with the Davies, Marlen got many exciting opportunities to travel to different parts of the country and take part in some Canadian traditions.
She detailed her time travelling to New Brunswick, Niagara Falls, and Toronto, and shared her feelings on her first real turkey dinner during Canadian Thanksgiving. (For the record, she thought everything was delicious!)
Her second host family was Rosara and Michael Gharghouri. She also had a host brother this time, Eric Gharghouri.
Since Eric was part of a snowboard cross team, Marlen was able to practice with his team, which she found to be a very fun experience.
She was also able to travel to Banff, Alberta with the Gharghouris and called it an “absolutely amazing and gorgeous place.”
Next she spoke about her third and final host family, the Dillenbecks, which consists of Jennifer (host mom), Orville (host dad), James (host brother), and Lydia (host sister).
Marlen explained that the Dillenbecks are involved in various church activities and she goes with them to the services every Sunday. This has allowed her to get to know better a lot of people who she had met before in activities like band.
Marlen also goes with Lydia and Jennifer to a variety of activities they take part in such as a sewing club and basketball.
While she was staying with the Dillenbecks, Marlen had an opportunity to make maple syrup with Anne and Doug Davies’ family cottage.
She called the experience “very Canadian” and exclaimed that she “appreciates maple syrup even more” now because she was able to see how much work it really takes to make it.
She then went on to discuss her experience attending Mackenzie Community School for the year.
Marlen explained that it was a pretty big change, as her school back home has around 1,200 students, while the high school portion of Mackenzie only has about 200. She says that although it was a big change, it was definitely a positive one.
Marlen stated that academically her school year was not very challenging except for English class.
She says she really enjoys attending Mackenzie because everyone is extremely friendly and helpful, and there are a lot of kind students at the school.
Currently, Marlen is enrolled in the Tamarack program, which contains 22 Grade 11 and 12 students. She has gone on the winter camping trip and hiking trip to Algonquin Park, and will soon be going on the six-day canoe trip.
Marlen also talked about her experience with the sports teams at Mackenzie. She took part in cross-country running and was also a part of the nordic ski team. She had never skied before and she said that it was very fun to learn a new sport.
Marlen even had the chance to compete in OFSAA for skiing, as the senior girls team that she was a part of qualified.
Outside of school, Marlen attended a gymnastics club in Pembroke once a week where she was able to train. She said that the coaches were “very kind and patient.”
She also joined the Community Band and played at the Christmas concert and the Mother’s Day concert.
Another big part of Marlen’s exchange were the Rotary weekends in which she got to travel a bit and meet with the other exchange students from the district.
She said that “even though we all come from different countries and stay in different places in Canada, we all have similar experiences.”
She finished off by thanking everyone involved in her exchange, especially her host families and the Rotary club for making this experience possible.
Marlen will be leaving soon to go back home to Switzerland – safe travels Marlen, thank you for being a part of our community this past year.
> from the NRT June 5, 2019