AFS is a community. As a participant, you’re part of an enormous group of people that all had/are having the same experience as you, that have similar views… All of a sudden, you have friends all over the world and you know things about other cultures and people’s characters that you could’ve never known just by staying in your hometown your whole life. (Unless, of course, you’re an AFS volunteer and you’re a host family for foreign AFS students! 😉 )
(Our AFS chapter, BRO)
So this year I’ve been part of such a group. Our chapter (the part of AFS Belgium we belong to): the people that already went on AFS and are around to give us advice based on their own experiences, tell stories, guide us…; people like me, who prepared for their AFS year, with whom there is a special bond, because this isn’t something everyone experiences and we’re all experiencing it together; and the AFS students from all over the world that lived in our chapter. You can imagine what the camps were like! Spanish, English and Dutch spoken in one sentence, people dreaming about what it would be, people telling all about how it was with them… It was unlike anything I’d ever experienced.
(Me, Tessa, Asli, Camille and Ruth on AFS camp by the sea)
I personally became closest with two exchange students, Siiri and Asli. Asli, from Turkey, went to my school at first, so that’s where we got to know each other (but then sadly the changed schools…), and I met Siiri at an AFS camp. We were introduced explicitly for the simple reason that she’s Finnish (and I’m going to Finland). We talked and talked, me wanting to know everything, having never met a Finnish person before, and after camp we kept in touch, to talk about Finland, my host family or her experiences here. Asli, Siiri and I also met up, and all of that made that they now have a special place in my heart. Now that their year is almost over (they leave tomorrow, the 12th), we met in Leuven one last time, at night and for brunch, with a whole bunch of exchange students. Things got emotional, I couldn’t keep it together and didn’t want to either, and they broke my heart by being so heartbroken.
Guys; Asli, Siiri, Clara, Vale, Maria, Ale, Adrian, Jose, Benjamin, Christoph, Tomook and anyone I forgot (sorry!): this is just the beginning of an awesome life. Wherever you want to travel now you have someone on whose couch you can sleep 😉 As cosmopolitans you won’t be able to stay in your hometown for long after this. Please visit Belgium again, and just enjoy your life, remember every single thing you experience and take every possible chance.
Have a safe trip home, I love you 😉
PS: never forget de woordjes ‘marginaal’, ‘een legging is geen broek’ of ‘godverdomme’, etc. 😉