The following farewell speech was delivered by Rotary exchange student Gian Fedele to a recent meeting of Clearwater Rotary Club.
Fedele came here from Valparaiso, Chile, arriving on Aug 29, 2016. He will be returning home on July 15 after spending nearly one full year in Canada.
“I had the best year of my life,” he said. “I made really good friends (including Josee, Nathan, Greener, Ben, Cedrick, John, Emma, Juni, and Annika).
The young Chilean described his three host families, the Wadleggers, Butchers and Jensens, as amazing.
“I just want to say thanks to everyone for everything, families, friends and Rotary,” he said.
This is it, this is where the chapter ends.
I knew this had to come but, I never realized it would be soon.
A year has passed and I’m standing here, waiting to return to another world than the one I’ve live in for the last few months.
I will soon fight the tears, give hugs and goodbyes to the people who have meant the most to me lately. The people who at one point didn’t know anything about me and they agreed to open their home and hearts to me.
The people I was randomly put in classes with and who later became really good friends. The people who helped me to find myself. Now I know the meaning of true friendship.
I am about to leave this life I built over the last year, and it is time to let it go now. In a few days I will come into town and see the familiar roads and buildings and it will seem like only yesterday.
I will leave my best friends to return to my best friends. I will see the people I had to fight the tears with and give hugs and goodbyes to a year ago.
I will go back to my home country and go back to the same things I did the last summer and every summer before, but with no idea how to proceed.
I will slowly get back to the normal life I used to live. I will soon start to realize how much things have changed, how much I have changed.
I will try to hold on to every person and every memory from my host country, but sooner or later I will have to realize that i have a lot to leave behind.
In a few days from now I will leave, I will take down my pictures and pack up my clothes. I’ll see the town one last time before I get on the plane back to my home country.
No more sleepovers with my new best friends, no more speaking my second language everyday, and no more people making fun of my accent.
I will put my memories away for right now, saving them for my return to this world, is time to leave this dream and get back to the real world, the world where I grew up and where I became the person I am today.
Just a few days from now I will arrive, I will walk into my old house, my old room. Every emotion will pass through me as I reflect on my life and how much it has changed the last few months.
I will unpack my things and I will have dinner with my family, I’ll go back to reality. How long will it take me before I miss my host country?
Missing someone isn’t about how long it has been since you have seen them, or the amount of time since you have talked. It’s about every moment when you are doing something and wishing they were right there with you.
Even though it is going to be hard. How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard?
But this is not a goodbye, this is an I’ll see you later. Because the distance means nothing, not when the person means so much, and the distance is a test of love.
Somehow I will find a way to adjust between the two different worlds I now live in.
For all who wants to be an exchange student, the hardest part of being an exchange student is balancing the two completely different worlds we now live in.