A 17-year-old schoolgirl will be swopping Brooklyn for Belgium when she jets off early next year to the land of waffles, chocolate and beer for a year-long Rotary exchange programme.
Robyn Clementson, a Buren High School matric pupil, will represent the Table Bay Rotary Club on the Rotary Youth Exchange Long-Term Programme, which lets pupils experience a new culture by staying with three to four host families. The young Rotary ambassadors must slot into the family’s daily routines and activities.
Robyn is the president of her school’s Interact Club and one of five pupils in the Table Bay region who were selected for the programme. She leaves for Belgium in January next year.
“When I found out about the programme, I came home and told my parents about it and said that I wanted to do it. My dad was skeptical about it at first, but they both agreed. I had a home interview, in which Rotary members came and checked out our house, and I had to go through a selection of interviews,” she said.
“I was nervous about getting in because I am from Buren High School and the other pupils were from more prestigious schools, and they were more direct than me, but I got it, and I will be re-doing my senior year in Belgium,” said Robyn.
After the interview process, and writing a motivational letter , she submitted her three countries of preference to visit, eventually settling on Belgium, which she says is rich in cultural heritage.
“I will gain cultural and traditional knowledge and do a presentation on my experience when I get back. I will be staying with four different families for three months each, and, while I’m there, someone will be here living with my family.
“I’ve never left South Africa; I haven’t even flown on an airplane before, so this experience will be life-changing for me. Unfortunately, finances are a big obstacle at this moment as we are four children at home still completing school.”
Her family are fundraising to cobble together the money she needs for the trip. So far, they have raised R6 000 by holding Sunday lunches and hosting a breakfast, but that’s still a long way from the R50 000 Robyn must come up with by the end of August to cover her travelling costs and medical insurance.
“When I return, I want to share with others my experiences and encourage them to try and do the same,” said Robyn.
“I want to be an example to others and show them that you don’t have to be rich and powerful to do things, you just need a dream and have to work hard to achieve it.”
The Clementson family will hold a women’s pamper day on Saturday August 6 and a Denim and Diamonds old school dance on Friday August 26, both in Milnerton, to raise funds.
Contact Robyn at 083 700 1731 or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.