Gina Perez

 Poland

Hometown: Apopka, Florida
School: Orlando Science
Sponsor District : District 6980
Sponsor Club: Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Host District: 2231
Host Club: RC Łódź 4-Kultury 


My Bio


My name is Gina Perez and I was born and raised in Apopka, Fl. I currently am 15 years old. I go to Orlando Science Schools, a school that focuses on the STEM curriculum and has granted me many opportunities. For example I am a part of Model United Nations. Model United Nations has given me a different perspective on countries relations, and a chance to open my horizon to solving problems that benefits more then one country, including public speaking, writing and research. However as much research I can do on Poland, it isn't the same as living in Poland. My position and exposure to Model UN has given me the chance to look at the opportunity, I was blessed with and relate it to my passions and goals. I have a passion for helping others and learning new culture and points of view. I joined Rotary Youth Exchange because I see this as an opportunity of a life time to potentially build connections in my assigned country to help others. Rotary grants the rare opportunity to live and experience a life outside of the United States. This experience can help educate me and many others on other countries culture and way of life outside from a computer screen and experience it head on.

Feliz

Feliz

crazy friends in school

crazy friends in school

Poland vs USA

Poland vs USA

Crazy Friends on Black Friday

Crazy Friends on Black Friday

Friends on Thanksgiving Dinner

Friends on Thanksgiving Dinner

main street covered in snow

main street covered in snow

snow in the central mall in my city

snow in the central mall in my city

Journals: Gina-Poland Blog 2017-18

  • Gina, Outbound to Poland

    So I have been in Poland for a little bit over 5 months and A LOT has happened since the last time I wrote you guys. I have already switched families. Switching families is a very odd experience because i have spent over 3 months with a family becoming a part of their family and then to switch it is very hard. I would have never imagined that within 3 months I will build this relationship and become this family’s daughter. My first host family and I shared many amazing moments like cooking while singing to music, going to plays and concerts, and even traveling Poland. One day, I went to a concert with my host mom and she had my CD signed saying “ The best daughter in the whole world from mama” . I have been with my second host family for a month or so, and I haven’t quite built the connection I had with my first but that is ok. I still keep in contact with my first host family and I hope that will continue for years to come.

    So the holidays have also come and gone. First came Thanksgiving, another exchange student from the US and I made a whole Thanksgiving dinner for our first host parents. For our Thanksgiving we made a WHOLE turkey, which was so challenging. We also made stuffing, mash potatoes, pumpkin pie, and OUR version of mac and cheese from scratch. Before we served the dinner we explained the history of Thanksgiving and everything was perfect.Then came Christmas, a Polish Christmas is very different from how I would spend Christmas in the States. A Polish Christmas starts on the 24 of December, they do not eat any meat, it is a lot of fish and Kapusta. During the Christmas season the exchange students of Lodz learned a couple Polish Christmas songs, which was so much fun. I loved singing alongside them.

    There comes a point in your exchange where it no longer is like a trip or a vacation but normal life. So every day we go to school eat dinner watch movies, and that can become kind of a routine. So being in Poland is ALWAYS important to find a way to do something with other exchange student because going home and spending time in your home isn’t going to help. So I took the time to do face masks with my host sister, go watch the last Jedi trailer with one of my friends, going to the movies and binging TV shows with another friend, learning guitar from a friend but the most impactful is cooking. I didn’t know until I came on exchange how much I love cooking. Andres, Carli, Yasmin and I would pick a dish and we would try to replicate it. We would buy soda and turn the music on and dance around the kitchen as we cook. Cooking is something so simple but it truly helps you get to know your friends.

    So when it comes to living another country the language is SO important. I understand Polish for the most part but my Polish is still VERY cavemen ( cavewomen) -ish. Everyone learns at their one pace and it is completely normal. Just keep at it and don’t be afraid to make mistakes because you always will.

    One of my favorite parts about exchange is the family that you build with your Polish and Exchange student friends. My friends truly have become family, I care about them so much and I hope I can keep the relationship with all of them long after exchange.

    Click HERE to read more about Gina and all her blogs

  • Gina, Outbound to Poland

    Dzień dobry! Nazywam się Gina Perez!

    I can’t believe I have been in Poland for a bit for over a month now. It is crazy to think I’ve only been here a month and I have seen and experienced so many new things. But I am getting ahead of myself. I remember the night before leaving it was crazy and filled with so much preparation, so the excitement and the emotions didn’t hit me until the next morning. I had an early departure, I was going to fly to Canada then Warsaw. We made it to airport and everything went smooth, then as I showed my ticket and passport to the clerk and walked through the final terminal , I looked back at my family gave them a wave, and the wave of emotions hit me. One of my biggest dreams I have, was about to come true. I was excited, nervous, all the above. I am sure all exchange students can relate to the wave of emotions you get as you leave behind your home to start this amazing adventure. As for my airplane experience it was great, I made friends who showed me how to navigate through the airport and other exchanges waiting to board their plane. I finally arrived in Warsaw the next morning greeted by my host mom , my host dad, and another exchange student’s family who coincidentally was on the same flight as me. Within the first couple days of my exchange my host family took me to a folk concert, it was wonderful. This concert gave me a chance to connect with my host family, plus the music was pretty good. Before I knew it, it was time for language camp.

    Language camp was the first impression with the other exchange students . We all became so close so fast. We began with exchanging pins. We exchanged so many pins. As for classes, we had Polish classes, history, music and sports. The Polish language courses were great, we received so much information and it truly laid down the foundation of our polish. Language camp provided us a chance to visit the Malbork Castle and an Army Museum. Each filled with so much history and I am so glad I was able to go. But the most exciting part of language was the ability to introduce ourselves to the President of Bydgoszcz. Language Camp provided me with enough basic Polish to help me feel a little bit more prepared for school.

    School soon started and I remember the first day so well, walking into school with other exchange students attending my school, so nervous.There are 3 other exchange students attending my school, we all became friends very quickly. We talked into school with our pinfilled blazers, we had already collected so many pins from language camp. We walked the halls and into the gym where EVERYONE could tell we were the new exchange students. We got introduced to the school and they were thrilled to have us.Everyone was so nice and helpful.We didn’t make any close friends until the class trip.We got to visit the Czech Republic and Wroclaw. It was so beautiful. But for me the most memorable moment was when we were on the bus to the hotel from Prague, Some students were singing songs in English and of course myself and the other exchange students joined in. Before we knew it we the whole bus was singing. We started to sing “Hallelujah” and it was perfect and brought us together as a class. We weren’t seen as these new foreign kids we were seen as one of them . It was wonderful. Music truly became part of uniting us because a Polish tradition during these trips are to sit around a campfire , sing , and enjoy each other's company. That trip truly brought the class and the exchange students together and I am so grateful for the trip.

    On topic of trips, the EEMA conference was a conference held in Warsaw and exchange students from all around Poland were invited to perform the flag ceremony. Also during this trip we got to meet and hear a speech from Lech Wałęsa. Lech Wałęsa is a noble peace prize winner and is responsible for leading Poland out of communism. Lech Wałęsa’s speech focused on inspiring us the new generation to stick up for what they believe in and it is our duty to make a difference and change the world for the better. His speech left us exchange students speechless and inspired to change the world someday. On this trip we also got to tour Warsaw and hear about the history of Warsaw.

    I can not thank Rotary enough for sending me on exchange and for sending to Poland. Poland overall is beautiful, filled with history and I can not imagine spending my exchange anywhere else. Poland has become my new home and I have only been here for a little over a month. I can not wait to see what else is in store for my new adventure here in Poland. If you are a thinking about going on exchange at all even a little bit, my best advice for you is: go for it, being a future outbound might be a lot of work but believe me it is worth it”

    Dziękuję bardzo! Znowu porozmawiaj!

    Click HERE to read more about Gina and all her blogs


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