JAMESTOWN – Wearing a navy blue Rotary Exchange Student blazer festooned with badges, banners, trophies and memorabilia…even a set of fake kangaroo ears…and sporting his own authentic Ausie, Down Under accent, Nolan Wells thanked the Jamestown Rotary for sending him to the other side of the planet, to Australia.
On Monday, September 10, Nolan addressed the Jamestown Noon Rotary Club, and also thanked the Wednesday Morning Rotary Club, for giving him the educational, social and personal gift of a “lifetime-in-a-year” by making him a student ambassador and representative to Australia. Nolan reported on the excellent educational system there and now looks forward to completing his senior year of high school back home in Jamestown, USA.
Lisa Yaggie, in charge of a Rotary program that sends and stays in touch with students like Nolan, described Nolan as the “perfect exchange student.” Nolan also developed a taste for some traditional Australian foods along with his “No worries, Mate” accent. Meat pies, a fistful of spiced or seasoned meat enclosed in a savory golden baked crust, is popular everywhere in Australia and handy for just about any occasion, like a rough and tumble rugby match (football without pads or inhibitions!) or an AFL match, best understood as “American football meets soccer.”
Vegemite, however—as popular in Australia as peanut butter in the U.S.—a dark brown, spreadable Australian food paste made from yeast extract is, at best, an acquired taste, Nolan confessed.
Nolan described Australia’s native inhabitants, the Aboriginal peoples and the Torres Strait Islanders, as predating the 18th and 19th Century European arrivals by as much as 40,000 years. Most Australians are immigrants, or their descendants, who arrived from more than 200 other countries. Nolan also explained that Australia is “a place that can hurt you,” a home to more venomous species of creatures that crawl, swim or slither than anywhere else in the world.
The highlight of Nolan’s year abroad was the three-week grand tour at the end of his stay, a cross country trip from one end of Australia to the other, with a group of fellow Rotary exchange students from around the world; an experience that he will never forget.