Senior tells of exchange year in Thailand

Senior tells of exchange year in Thailand

A year ago while the Soldotna Rotary Club hosted a foreign exchange student from Thailand named Chang, SoHi student Anna Wrobel was in the same country as an outbound exchange student, “It is unusual that it happened to work out that way but I was able to meet Chang’s family and I traveled to his home actually and became acquainted with his mom very well and that was a unique opportunity to be able to share with her what my life was like in Alaska and what her son was experiencing here in Soldotna,” Wrobel told the Soldotna Rotary Club. While here, Chang held a Taiwanese dinner where he cooked traditional foods from his homeland and with the help of local Rotarians raised over $7,000 for emergency shelter boxes that are distributed globally in times of natural disaster.

Anna was in Thailand for nearly a year, “I was there for eleven months and in that time I attended Thai school and learned about the Thai culture by attending Thai weddings and going to temple traveling the breadth and width of the country while making life long relationships with my host Thai family and also with students from five other countries that were also on exchange in Thailand.”

While Chang was in Alaska in an interview he said he felt the primary misconception that Alaskans had of Thailand was that they all rode Elephants. While Anna did ride traditional elephants while in Thailand she said that the misconceptions about Alaska were, “That it was cold all the time with no summer and had polar bears in our back yards every day. Also many thought that Alaska was part of Canada,” she said.

It takes courage to leave family and home and journey to a distant land where you don’t speak the language or have any friends, “I was nervous in the beginning and didn’t really what to expect. The language barrier was difficult in the beginning and I had to really make an effort to connect with people when you don’t share a common language, but it was the challenges that made it enjoyable. I enjoyed learning the language and then being able to connect with the Thai people and make friends and family of them. To become comfortable and feel loved and welcomed into and become part of their culture is a life changing experience. I’m privileged to know that. In that relatively short period of time I have never grown as close to a group of people as I did with my host family. They took me in and welcomed me just like I really was their own child, sister and daughter of their family and shared every aspect of their life with me as I did with them. I was happy to be there and they let me know that they were happy to have me. They truly became my second family and the experience has totally changed the direction I want to follow in my life. Before the exchange I never thought much about international relations, but now as I prepare for college I’m thinking of majoring in international affairs with an emphasis on international education and hope someday to have an international career. I so appreciate all the Rotarians that made my experience possible, it would not have happened without them. I’ll be a Rotarian someday and help make such an experience possible for another young man or woman because truly it is the best model for world peace and it will happen one student at a time,” said Wrobel.

More in News

Stickers are available for voters at the Kenai No. 1 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Soldotna to hold ‘I Voted’ sticker design contest

City council members approved the program during their Wednesday night meeting

Rep. Justin Ruffridge, R-Soldotna, speaks in support of a bill increasing state funds for public education in the Alaska House of Representatives on Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bill seeking to bump use of Alaska Performance Scholarship clears the House with unanimous support

The money is awarded to high-performing high school graduates to help pay for postsecondary education at participating institutions in Alaska

Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities Commissioner Ryan Anderson answers questions from state senators during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024 in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
State officials working to meet Friday deadline for revised transportation plan

The federal government rejected the plan on Feb. 9, citing numerous deficiencies

Travis Every, top left, speaks in support of fishing opportunity for the east side setnet fishery before the State Board of Fisheries at the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage, Alaska, on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local fishers talk conservation, opportunity before Board of Fisheries in Anchorage

Local fishers from the Kenai Peninsula traveled to Anchorage this weekend to… Continue reading

Sen. Jesse Bjorkman, R-Nikiski, presents information on a bill establishing a voluntary buyback program for Cook Inlet’s east side setnet fishery on Monday, Feb. 19, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Bjorkman bill would pay bonuses to nationally certified teachers

The Alaska Department of Education and Early Development estimates that the bonus program would apply to about 215 of Alaska’s estimated 7,315 teachers — about 3%

Alaska senators meet with members of the media to discuss education legislation after a press conference by Gov. Mike Dunleavy on the topic on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Juneau, Alaska. (Mark Sabbatini/Juneau Empire)
Dunleavy threatens veto of education bill if more of his priorities aren’t added

It is not certain there would be the 40 votes necessary to override a veto by the governor

A map displays a wide-ranging special weather statement, published Tuesday by the National Weather Service, covering Southcentral Alaska. (Map courtesy of National Weather Service)
Strong winds, low wind chills forecast through Friday

Wind chills over night may reach as low as -20 to -40 degrees in much of Southcentral

Snow falls atop the Central Peninsula Diabetes Center in Soldotna, Alaska, on Monday, Feb. 26, 2024. The office opened in October, but a grand opening was held this week. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Central Peninsula Hospital adds Diabetes Center

The center has been seeing patients since October and held a grand opening Monday

Gary Hollier pulls a sockeye salmon from a set gillnet at a test site for selective harvest setnet gear in Kenai, Alaska, on Tuesday, July 25, 2023. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Findings from pilot setnet fishery study inconclusive

The study sought to see whether shorter nets could selectively catch sockeye salmon while allowing king salmon to pass below

Most Read