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Gaelle Ibarguen, Rotary Exchange, 11 Oct 16On Tuesday 11 Oct 2016, our Rotary International Youth Exchange student Gaëlle Ibargüen presented to the Club. Gaëlle introduced herself to club members with some information about herself, her family and her home country of Belgium. Since arriving in NZ mid-July, Gaëlle has turned 18 and is attending Tawa College.

Gaëlle comes from Belgium which is known for its chocolates, and its beer, as the centre of the European government, and for its football team. Belgium is a small country but has a larger population than NZ at 11 million. It is perhaps lesser known than its larger neighbours, and is a long way from NZ. Belgium has three national languages: Dutch (Flemish) 57%, French 43% and German 0.3% - Gaëlle’s first language is French, but she also speaks some Dutch, Spanish, English, and a little Italian.

Gaëlle lives with her parents and younger sister about 1 hour south of Brussels, in the small village of Horrues near the larger town of Soignies where she attended High School, which she has now finished. Gaëlle’s hobbies and interests include Scouting, music especially piano playing, improvisation, drawing and humour. Gaëlle has travelled quite extensively within Europe and to Morocco, but this is the first time travelled so far.

Gaelle Ibarguen, 11 Oct 2016Brussels, the Capital of Belgium, is known for the Atomium (the towering and iconic steel atom sculpture) and Manneken Pis (an iconic 17th C bronze stature of a boy). Belgium is run as a Constitutional Monarchy with a royal family headed by King Philipe and democratic parliamentary system headed by a Prime Minister. Gaëlle recounted some of the more famous literacy authors of Belgium that she had learned about at school, some of which were known to us and some were not. These included Amélie Nothomb, Hugo Clau, Georges Simenon, Maurice Maeterlinck, and Hergé the author of Tintin. Gaëlle finished by thanking the Tawa Club members for their hospitality and for hosting her in NZ. 

Questioners asked Gaëlle about what she found different between NZ and Belgium and what she planned to do on return home. Gaëlle noted there are lots of little differences like the obvious one of language and history, but most noticeable for Gaëlle was the hilly landscape of NZ and the school class room dynamics. Upon return home next year Gaëlle’s plans to study architecture at a university in Brussels.

We look forward to hearing again from Gaëlle towards the end of her 12 month stay in NZ.

Rotary Exchange, Gaëlle Ibargüen

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