2018 Brecksville-Broadview Heights High School graduate, Aurionne Gaston, recently returned home after completing a year-long exchange program in South Korea. The program was sponsored by Rotary Youth Exchange and provided Auri the opportunity of a lifetime to learn a new language, explore a different culture, develop leadership skills and build new friendships. Auri was motivated to participate due to a personal interest in experiencing a new language and culture, as well as through learning about experiences traveling abroad from her mother and BBHHS German Teacher, Jeff Moore. During her visit, Auri attended a school in Hwaseong-si, South Korea, located southwest of the capital of Seoul, for a full academic year while staying with two different host families.
Auri found her time as an exchange student to be a deeply rewarding and positive experience. She found the people of South Korea to be very welcoming and interested in getting to know her and engage in cross-cultural learning. Walking to school with friends in uniform or regularly visiting a friendly neighborhood store remain some of her fondest memories. The exchange experience also helped to break down social barriers in South Korea. As an African American, Auri shared that she sometimes felt uncomfortable in certain social situations but was thankful for the many people who were intentional about making her feel accepted.
Looking back, Auri considers participating in the Rotary Youth Exchange program as one of the best decisions of her life and considers South Korea to be a second home. She encourages other students considering similar foreign exchange opportunities to pursue them, noting that while the journey into an unfamiliar setting can be challenging at first, the memories and friendships formed will last a lifetime.
The Brecksville-Broadview Heights City Schools would like to thank Auri for sharing about her exchange program experience and extend best wishes in her future endeavors!