Rotary Exchange student reflects on time in Sioux Lookout
Jesse Bonello - Staff Writer
Akane Terao, who is wrapping up her grade 11 year at Sioux North High School, has been in Sioux Lookout for the past eleven months on a long-term Rotary Youth Exchange.
She will be heading back home to Nagoya, Japan in July, where she says the city is the same size as Sioux Lookout, but has a much larger population.
“My home city is the same size as Sioux Lookout, but has two-point-three million people. It’s so crowded, and I don’t like that. That’s too many people for me, so I love Sioux Lookout. It’s so quiet and lots of green, so I love it,” said Terao.
Terao explained that she didn’t specifically choose Sioux Lookout as her exchange destination, but Canada was her top country of choice.
“Everyone always asks me why I chose Sioux Lookout, but I just chose Canada. We could choose four countries, and I chose Canada with my first choice, the United States, Australia, and Germany,” said Terao.
During her time in Sioux Lookout, Terao shared that she enjoyed the outdoors and adventurous activities that the Sioux Lookout area has to offer.
“I got to drive a snowmobile. I really love that, I have to take one to Japan,” she laughed.
“I did lots of rafting, canoeing, and fishing. I love fishing, and caught some huge fish,” she added.
Throughout her exchange Terao attended weekly Sioux Lookout Rotary Club meetings where she would provide weekly updates for local Rotary Club members.
“We have Rotary Meetings every Thursday, and I do a short speech every week telling them what I did throughout the week,” she said.
“I love Rotary in Sioux Lookout. They’re so nice and so sweet. I’m going to miss them.”
Sioux Lookout Rotary Club members had the opportunity to learn more about Japan and Terao’s life in Nagoya when she made a presentation during one of their weekly meetings.
“I did a presentation on Japan and my day-to-day life… Japan and Canada is so different. Japanese education is really hard. In Japan, having an academic background is so important, so we have to study a lot. If you can’t understand a class you have to go to afternoon school, so it’s different. I think it surprised them,” she said.
“In Japan I usually get back home at ten o’clock at night because I’m going to afternoon school every day… I love the Canadian education system… I really love it. I have lots of friends at school and the teachers are really nice to me, so I love it… I played badminton and soccer this year,” she added.
While reflecting on her time in Sioux Lookout Terao shared that she wished every student could have the opportunity to experience a Rotary Youth Exchange.
“I want to tell my friends that they should do an exchange. It’s really nice, and I found I changed a lot. I don’t know what changed to me but, if I called my mom or talked to my friends, everyone said I changed for the better… They said I’m more positive, have more positive thinking, and have a better respect for people. I love it, and I’m not ready to go home… I want to thank Sioux Lookout Rotary, my friends, my teachers, and everyone. They made this exchange amazing,” she explained.
Terao said she expects to be away from home even more in her future, with plans to study medicine abroad.
“I want to go to university in Hungary as a student. I want to study medicine and become a doctor,” she concluded.