The triumphal return of Jessica Lyons from her stint as a Rotary Exchange student in Norway was celebrated at the June 3rd meeting of the Garrettsville-Hiram Rotary Club.
Jessica and her parents, Doug and Karen Lyons, recounted their experiences on both sides of the Atlantic and expressed appreciation for the assistance and support of the local club in making this adventure possible. All were positive about the personal growth achieved and the expansion of horizons facilitated by the time spent abroad and the communication between the student, the parents, the members, the host families and communities. It was all about learning…at every level.
Jessica recounted her travels in Norway and in Europe and her efforts in learning the Norwegian language, also her impressions of Norwegian foods–plain, healthy, hearty, boring. Good chocolate, though. She had numerous experiences attending local Rotary meetings, attending classes in the local high school, going shopping at the local mall, as well as a school field trip to London. She had special assistance in her language studies from a “Rotary Grandpa” which made interpersonal relationships progress much more rapidly than they otherwise might have in some situations. She observed that the Norwegians seemed to be a quite reserved people, not exactly self-absorbed but certainly not “chatty” as many Americans are likely to be perceived. She also found that popular myths about Americans were common, many derived from the world of movies and “show business”.
Each of the three families that she stayed with had its own “tone” and personality but all were welcoming and offered a different facet of culture to discover and adapt to. Jessica–who returned to Garrettsville just in time to graduate with her class from James A. Garfield High School– will be off to college at Walsh University ( a Bluen Scholar–International Relations) in the fall of 2013 and hopes to someday return to Norway…in the course of many other travels, no doubt.