Isaac is renowned locally for his sporting achievements and community service. Now, on the eve of heading to Brazil for a year as part of Rotary’s Youth Exchange Programme, Isaac spares the time to share his thoughts ahead of what will no doubt be a life changing experience …
Hi Isaac. When we last chatted, you were busy with surf lifesaving and triathlons! How much involvement do you still have in either of these activities?
Hi Jo. I still am involved in both of these activities. I recently completed my first half marathon in a time of 1 hour 29 mins, smashing the time I wanted to achieve. I am also still actively involved in the surf lifesaving movement at Wauchope Bonny Hills SLSC, patrolling the beach whenever I have the time.
What have been some of your athletic highlights this past year?
Some of my athletics highlights include making it to NSW all schools cross country held at Eastern Creek Raceway in Sydney. Also, another big highlight in my sporting life is completing my first half marathon in the Forster Running Festival earlier this year.
You’ll be heading off overseas soon, for a year, as part of Rotary International’s Youth Exchange Programme. Which country will you be travelling to?
Yes! I am heading overseas soon, and I will be travelling to a town in Brazil called Valinhos in the state of Sao Paulo for one year, to live and immerse myself in a totally different culture to what we have here in Australia!
Explain how you were chosen for this role … what was involved, and how tough was the selection process?
The process is very, very, very long to become an exchange student, but I will tell you the main steps:
Step 1 – application of interest – this meant that I just had to say I was interested and await an email.
Step 2 – I got the go ahead. After I received the email, I organised a local Rotary Club interview. This consisted of a panel of five people from the local Port Macquarie Sunrise Rotary Club. It was daunting ! But all they wanted to know was who I was and why I wanted to be an exchange student through Rotary.
Step 3 – district interviews. After I passed the Rotary Club interviews, I got a phone call to say I could go to district interviews. These were crazy scary! Each room consisted of five people, and each interview went for approx. 15 minutes. But, I passed and was accepted!
Step 4 – I got allocated my country at the district interviews. I put down my top five countries, with my first being Brazil. I got a phone call from the Youth Exchange Programme Chair (YEPC) and they said I’d been accepted and was a great candidate for the position. I was STOKED!
Step 5 – tonnes and tonnes of paperwork needed to be completed – about 40 pages – so that it could be sent to Brazil.
What are your feelings ahead of leaving home for such a lengthy period?
I am quite nervous, and I think I will miss Mum and Dad very, very much, but I do think it will be a great experience to become more independent and grow and get to experience the world and what it has to offer.
What research have you done about your host country?
Well, I have not done much research, as I have had a Brazilian exchange student staying at my house for the past two months. His name is Victor, and he only lives 20 km away from my host city. It has been great having him at my house teaching me the language and about the country and life in Brazil.
What are you most looking forward to about the next year?
I am most looking forward to meeting so many different people from all over the world and making lifelong friendships. I am also looking forward to being able to learn another language and immersing myself in culture from a different country!
What problems/difficulties do you think you may encounter while you’re away – and how do you hope to overcome these?
Some of the problems I think I will face while overseas are the language barriers I will need to face, and I think that I will be able to overcome this by trying my hardest to learn the language and not speak English and speak Portuguese as much as I can.
I also think that it will be hard to overcome the home sickness that I will go through over in Brazil, but I think it will be OK if I just keep in contact with Mum and Dad and also chat to people about how I feel.
Anyone you’d like to thank for their support in your journey so far?
Yes! I would love to take the time to thank all the businesses that donated items for numerous raffles and trivia nights to fundraise for me. I also would like to thank the Port Macquarie Sunrise Rotary Club for all the support and countless hours of help they gave me in preparing for the exchange journey.
And finally, I would like to say a massive thank you to my parents, James and Rachele, because without them none of this would be possible.
Final say …
If you would like to follow my exchange journey, I have a Facebook page called Isaac Sanderson Youth Exchange.
Interview by Jo Robinson.