A funny thing happened on the train today….I was on my way back to Central after attending the first day of the Youth Exchange pre convention meetings at Olympic Park at the 2014 Rotary International Convention in Sydney. The train was full of Rotarians, youthful Rotaractors and exchange students, when a happy bunch came in, saw my name badge and said, Hey Debbie can we join you? They were a group of Rotaractors from all over the world and we started talking – as you do! We agreed that it was so good to get into a train carriage full of strangers and to hear everyone strike up conversations, the buzz was amazing! We talked about this phenomenon and the fact that it was Rotary that we all had in common. One of them then said that strangers are just friends you haven’t met yet. Hearing this from someone so young but so worldly wise was one of the highlights of my day. We talked non stop for the duration of the train ride and I probably won’t see them again, but I know we shared a connection – a Rotary connection.
All day I had been marvelling at the friendliness of people, the smiles, the nods, the hellos, the chatting to strangers, the generosity of those involved in Youth Exchange. I consider myself very lucky indeed to be part of this wonderful organisation, where people readily give of themselves.
my journey so far…
Day 1 – Thursday 29 May 2014
Yesterday I caught the bus from Canberra to Sydney for the week. I was pleased with myself as I had managed to condense my packing into one small carry on bag and a day backpack. I met up with a friend and we made our way by train to Olympic Park to register for the convention. There were so many happy, helpful Rotary volunteers everywhere, directing us, offering help or just a smile and a welcome. Registration was quick and easy and we chatted to a few people before heading off for a late lunch nearby. The generous offer from the State Government meant that all our public transport around the city for the entire week – we tested this out and it worked!!
We made our way back into the city to our accommodation, a delightful Victorian guest house in Glebe, and settled in before a delicious dinner at a Tapas restaurant across the road. Vivid Sydney was a must see event so we got ourselves to Circular Quay along with thousands of others, and watched and listened to the amazing light and sound show. It’s billed as a mesmerising free public exhibition of outdoor lighting sculptures and installations, a cutting edge contemporary music program, and the spectacular illumination of Sydney’s iconic architecture, including the sails of the Sydney Opera House. It was definitely this and much more! Absolutely stunning!
Day 2 – Friday 30 May 2014
I was determined to get up and go for a walk/run this morning. I was awake early and set out in the dark, hoping that I was in a safe area. I needn’t have worried as there were many others out doing the same thing. I ran around the foreshore of Black Wattle Bay and thoroughly enjoyed the views, the houses, the rowers on the water, the boot camps in the park, the fresh morning air and the city lights. After a quick breakfast we headed out at 8am for the trip to Olympic Park. The Youth Exchange program was well run and very informative, with many inspiring speeches by those who seemed too young to have so much confidence and experience. Highlights included the current exchange students singing for us, a great personal key note address by an experienced Rotarian and various discussion sessions. I enjoyed wandering around at the lunch break and hearing snatches of conversations in various languages, seeing people meeting up with old friends and making new ones. My day got better with my train trip back to the city as per my earlier notes and I enjoyed a brisk walk back to my accommodation instead of using public transport. The atmosphere in the city is very different to my small town so I took the opportunity to immerse myself in it while I could. Another good day coming up tomorrow!!