July 22, 2021 17:54
It was in 2015 in a small town in the centre of France. It was the YFU Pre-Departure Orientation. I was the youngest student of the year. I was sharing my room with five other girls, all older than me obviously.
At the time I was really shy, didn’t want to take part in anything and just wanted to stay on my bed and read a book. I remember that all the girls in my bedroom started being friends and started hanging out with some guys in YFU. One night they all decided, even if it wasn’t allowed, to hang out all of us together after the curfew the volunteers gave us. I stayed in the room all by myself, thinking that I would have loved to meet other people that were going to live the same experience as me. But I didn’t have the courage to go to them. I stayed up all night waiting for them, thinking that someone might come to get me. But no.
My exchange really changed my way of living and thinking. I stopped thinking and caring what people were thinking about me because most of the time a few minutes later they would have forgotten about it. That is why I decided to become a volunteer for YFU. I really started to talk to anyone, being different from the person I was a year ago.
That’s when I met Marion and Paul, two wonderful people that also decided to take part in YFU’s volunteering. We were the three musketeers. Always together, at events, helping the organizing team, the new volunteers and even the students. Paul and I went a year in the US and Marion went to Chile. We were very different from each other, being from different places and doing different educations. But we stuck together because we lived the same experience and wanted to promote it all around the world.
Marion lives in a small town near the location where YFU France does the On-Arrival Orientation. I was never able to participate in this event because we had to be part of a region as volunteers and I wasn’t. But with Marion, we decided to get together and stay at her place for a week and every night we would go to the event and hang out with our volunteer friends.
Paul now lives in Paris, 20min away from my place. He works like me in event planning which is really interesting because he has more experience than me so he helps me whenever I need to. We have been planning to organize YFU events for volunteers but they have not been approved by the office yet. I remember one night last year, we decided to find a website that could send us American food, like hot Cheetos and real beef jerky. At 5 in the morning, on a random Tuesday night, we paid like 100€ just for American food and we were so happy about it.
And then there are other volunteers that I met later, like Camille. Camille never really went on exchange in highs school but she did work in some YFU offices around Europe. We met at an unofficial YFU gathering in the Czech Republic. We were the only two French people, and we celebrated my birthday on a random bus in the middle of Germany on our way there. Since we haven’t been able to leave each other.
I don’t know why I love these people so much. I really don’t. Maybe it’s because we loved our exchange so much that every time we see each other it’s like we live it again. Every YFU France event you will see us always together, having a good time, showing all the little students that an experience like this can last you a lifetime and not just 11 months.
PS: It was just a few months ago that I realized that Marion was part of the group of girls who were in my room for the Pre Departure Orientation. What was so crazy about this is that she slept in the bed right next to me. And that now she is my best friend :)
Author: Clara theys, YFU France
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