By Naida Ghozalba (YES 19-20, Indonesia, hosted by AFS-USA in Rio, WI)
Last week, my host school, Rio High School, sent me a picture of my senior spotlight yard sign design. When I saw that picture, it reminded me of the river of life that was my journey through my American high school. I remembered the difficult first day of school, how I found the classes and met teachers for the first time, how I finally made friends, how we had lunch together in the cafeteria, how I opened my locker, what I felt when I walked down the hallway, and how I finally got used to the new routines. I had almost become a “first timer” for everything.
It was not easy, but it was exciting and unforgettable. I tried and learned something new that I never would have learned if I’d chosen to stay in my comfortable zone. And what I learned was not just an ordinary “something new”, but something that I can take and use for years into the future and that will help prepare me for my adult life.
Now, I am in my home country, Indonesia. I returned home early because of COVID-19. My journey might not be as long as the ones previous exchange students had, but the experiences I had and values I learned are just as huge and meaningful, and nobody can take it away.
Going home earlier made me realize that anything can happen, good or bad, but we can be mindful of how we handle it. In every problem, we should look at both the positive and negative impacts, so we can keep being grateful, stronger, patient, and sincere.
As a senior, I knew that it would be a rough time. My host school first planned to hold a graduation on May 31, but postponed it to July 12. To celebrate the seniors, my host school made a yard sign for all the seniors in the Rio High School Class of 2020 and put them in front of the building. This is the first year they did something like this. It is really awesome! I am very thankful for becoming a part of Rio High School alumni and very proud of myself of what I did during my exchange year. Rio, until we meet again. Go Seniors!