by Wayne Anderson


Our speaker today was Dorien Abbekerk, one of the three inbound exchange students we have had the good fortune to meet and get to know over the past 8-9 months and she was introduced by our club member Jason Bradley, who is also the Exchange Student Country Officer Northern Europe, and District 5020 Trip
Co-ordinator for Rotary Youth Exchange.


Dorien started her year end presentation by stating that she is 17 years old and from the Netherlands. She stated that she is NOT from Holland, Holland is only one of 12 provinces in the Netherlands and then she showed us a video that explained , in a very rapid fashion, the differences between the Kingdom of the Netherlands and all of its offshore holdings such as the Dutch Caribbean, the Netherlands, and its provinces. Needless to say, it might have been a bit confusing, but I think we all got the message that in the future when someone tells us that they are from Holland we now know that they mean they are from Holland, one of the provinces of the Netherlands.

Dorien stated The Netherland is a small country, the country of Ghana is 240 times bigger than the Netherlands. Dorien lives in Andijk with herfamily and it has a population of about of about 6500 people.

Dorien explained that she had seen an Exchange opportunity on the internet, and she was very excited, however, that Exchange was very expensive and after talking with her mother it was decided that she should look for other Exchange opportunities and that is how Dorien found Rotary and its Exchange program. She filled out all the papers, went to the int erviews, was accepted, and then she was told that all the spaces were filled, but she would be first in li11e if someone dropped out. Someone did drop out and that is how she was sponsored by a Rotary Club from Turkey and how she got to come to Canada.

Dorien then showed us a video of her year in pictures; all of the trips and events she was able to participate in with herfellow exchange students. She visited Quadra Island, skied on Mt. Washington, spent five days in Tofino on Spring Break, and helped create a song with her exchange friends which will be debuted at the Conference in May, you must attend to hear it. Dorien said her favourite trip was the one to California and she showed us another video of this trip. They flew to LA, went to Disneyland, ocean surfed and visited among other thing the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Streets.

Dorien said that she still has two months to go on her Exchange, she is very grateful for the opportunity, and it is all thanks to Rotary.

Dorien answered a few questions -yes she would like to travel more once she gets home, yes she has graduated high school and plans to go to University to take a three year nursing course with the expectation that after graduation she will work with mothers and their newborn babies in a home setting. She said you can get almost anywhere in the Netherlands in a 30 minute bike ride. She thinks that the school system at home is harder than the one in Canada, they have three levels of schooling and you move up and down within the levels based on your abilities and effort. The schooling she took in Canada does not count for credits at home.

Geoff Clay thanked Dorien for her wonderful talk and presented her with one of our club Rotary Pens as a keepsake of her talk.