Mackenzie Rockwood
2011-12 Outbound to Finland

Hometown: Vero Beach, Florida
School: Vero Beach High School
Sponsor: Treasure Coast Vero Beach Rotary Club, District 6930, Florida
Host: Rotary Club of Jyväskylä-Laajavuori, District 1390, Finland

Mackenzie's Bio

Päivää, nimeni on Mackenzie (Hello my name is Mackenzie). So right now I’m sixteen, I will be seventeen in October and the majority of the time over seas. I’ve lived in Vero Beach since I was six years old but still love my birthplace, Chicago. I go to VBHS (Vero Beach High School) were I’m a sophomore. Six years ago it was just my mom, my dad and me, but now its grandma, my parents, Lily and Millie (cats), Brandy (dog), and me. So that’s one big happy family, under one roof.

Ever summer since I was in sixth grade I have been volunteering at The Vero Beach Museum of Art, at the summer camp. All those years have add up to over 700 hours of community services (I now what your thinking “that crazy”). The museum is my home away from home. I love all the people that work there and would nerve take back those hours for the world. So when school comes around I usually study and do homework, but this year I’ve joined two clubs. One is French club which I had a lot of fun walking in the homecoming parade. Second is Photo Club, I love photography and take photo and hangout with a cool group of people is a big plus.

I would have never guest that I, Mackenzie Catherine Rockwood, would be a Rotary Youth Exchange Student going to (here it comes) FINLAND! This whole thing has me really thinking about my future, which is kind of nice for once. Ideas of Finland fill my dreams, soon (eight months, not soon enough) those dreams will become reality. I thank my whole family and The Rotary club for letting me do this amazing life change expertise.

Mackenzie's Journals

September 29

Seeing Finland for the first time out of the small airplane window made me fell like Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz, I was not in Florida anymore! First stop on the yellow brick road was Language Camp. Here I met all 120 exchange students from 14 different countries who were just like me and were going to spend a whole year in FINLAND. The week went by fast, filled with activities and lessons. From the moment I got off the plane until today (and probably for the rest of my life) I am amazed at all the new things I am seeing and hearing and what a beautiful land this truly is.

The first time I saw my host mom I knew she looked like fun. She gave me a BIG HUG and said that she was glad to have a girl in the house again. Instead of staying for lunch at the camp we left and stopped at the oh so famous Finnish ABC restaurant. After that we had a good two hour drive in which I got to know Paivi (host mom) better. You know the phase "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree" well, in this case my host brother, Olli, fell too far from the tree. He doesn't talk a lot, stays in his room on the computer and for some reason doesn't like little children. Other than that he is a cool guy. I also live with Paivi’s mother who speaks no English, which I hope will help me improve my Finnish. I can't forget Sisi our dog. She reminds me of my dog a lot, all she wants to do is sleep and eat. Also if you’re not playing with her or petting her she will bark and scratch you. This is my first host family and it’s been such a good experience that I can't wait to see what the second family will be like.

School is interesting. For starters, my school is the first Finnish school in the world! There are about 600 students at my school. This number seems small compared to the 2,000 students at my school in Vero Beach. Kids here are very nice and sometimes know more about American pop culture then I do. So when they ask me if I know a certain TV show or what happened to Brad Pitt last month and I shrug my shoulders, they just laugh. Also many kids are here on an exchange basis. whenever we have time we try comparing our experiences. I can't wait for international day here. They're going to have a fair with stands representing different countries where people are from or have visited through the exchange program.

The leaves are changing now and the days are getting shorter but my time here so far has been wonderful. I can't see myself in a more perfect place than here in Finland. If I had one word to describe Finland it would be ...FRESH! Everything is new and "fresh" around me. Fresh air. Fresh water. It's just fresh all over. Everything that I expected before coming here has not only come true, but is better than I expected. So I know that the adventure had started on the right foot.