Alex Pool Smaller

Alex M- Child Youth and Aquatics, Barrie YMCA

Employer of Choice- YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka

I send a heartfelt thank you to the Rotary organization for sponsoring an experience of this magnitude and to the YMCA of Simcoe/Muskoka for being an employer with the foresight and flexibility to make this happen. I will never be able to repay them in this lifetime. Which is why I hope to share my story and work collaboratively with both organizations more often to ensure others can have the same experience. Making this world a little smaller, with a greater understand of what’s out there, is a great way to allow people to see possibilities.

In July 2012, I was approached by a Rotarian regarding an opportunity to apply for an International Group Study Exchange (GSE). I have been lucky enough to be a part of the Barrie Rotaract group, a group for young professionals, 18-30 years or age. The GSE team for the 2012-2013 trip was scheduled for Taiwan, I location I knew virtually nothing about. The only thing I knew about Taiwan, prior to my application, was that childhood toys were made there.  Needless to say after a 1 month excursion, the gaps in my knowledge of Taiwan have begun to close but through this International experience I’ve realized there is still so much left to learn.

This experience has changed my life and as a result I’ve modified my goals moving forward, I have seen spas and health centres with great new ideas. I had the chance to visit the YMCA in Taipei, which in 1962 received sponsorship from YMCA Canada to support an addition for educational programs. The YMCA name also changed to be the Maple Tree YMCA in recognition of the donation they received- which allowed for completion of a 2 story renovation.  My visit to the Taipei YMCA was one of many vocation visits that resulted in friendships and introductions to colleges across the globe; our world is becoming a much smaller place.  Taiwan has the warmest and most genuine people of all the countries I’ve traveled. It comes across clearly, as the life mission of all Taiwanese, to feed you, care for you, and ensure you want for nothing. The people of Taiwan try harder than most cultures to practice their English and to learn about country, get to know our families and demonstrate it!

If you would like to hear about any of our other experiences please check out the trip Blog at http://gseexchangecndtotaiwan.blogspot.ca. Thanks for the opportunity to share.

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