Cultural exchange opens young eyes

Cultural exchange opens young eyes

Ahandful of young people from around the world recently explored the South East as part of the Lions Club’s Youth Exchange Program.

The nine participants hailed from Mongolia, Utah, Italy, New South Wales and Western Australia and set up camp at Blue Light SA outdoor adventure camp Noora Yo-Long in Rendelsham.

The visitors were previously hosted by Australian families for two weeks before travelling as a group to Kangaroo Island on the first leg of their tour.

Campers took part in a host of activities and experiences across the South East including learning about Aboriginal culture from indigenous elder Uncle Doug Nicholls, trying camel milk and visiting the Naracoorte Caves, The Sheep’s Back Museum and the Duck-A-Roo Wildlife Santuary.

The Lions Noora Yo-Long Camp is run by 10 committee members and supported by over 60 businesses, Lions clubs and members.

Lions zone 11 chairperson Beryl Mahoney said this was the second Lions Club Youth Exchange Program held in South Australia.

“It has been a wonderful experience … and we hope to have another one again next year,” she said.

“For many of these young people, it is the first time many of them have seen the sea, had a hamburger or been to McDonald’s; first time experiences for them are just wonderful.

“For us who have been in Lions for a long time talking to these young people about their cultures and how Lions work and their countries is amazing.”

Several of the participants on the camp were asked by The SE Voice why they decided to participate, to describe their time in the Limestone Coast and nominate their favourite experience.

Mukhanand Naminkhango, 16, from Mongolia said his favourite part of the exchange was the people he came across in his travels.

“Everywhere I have been the people have been extremely nice,” he said.

“I was not expecting it but the people would randomly start a conversation with me and ask where I came from and that was pretty amazing because it was something that was really unique for me.

“The nature is also really beautiful as well.”

Cielo Thompson, 20, from Utah, USA said she wanted to travel down under to expand her knowledge on Australia and the indigenous culture.

“I chose to come to Australia because I really like travelling and learning new things about different places and so I did not really know much about Australia before coming here,” she said.

“I wanted to come here so I can learn more about the culture here and see all the wildlife hear because the wildlife is really interesting.

“I got to see starfish for the first time and that was super fun, I got to see kangaroos and all these really different animals that we do not have in the US but it has been super fun.

“It has also been really interesting learning about the aboriginal culture here and like the meanings of the different drawings and we also went to a smoking ceremony that was supposed to connect us to the land and show respect.”

Simone Cascio Barmieri, 20, from Italy is an avid traveller and has journeyed to every continent (besides Antartica) after his visit down under.

Mr Barmeri said he saw koalas, kangaroos and seagulls for the inugural time.

“I can be here because of the Lions club because I am really far from home, it is more then 16,000km so it is a pretty long trip and alone I could not do it,” he said.

“One of the things that I loved to see was that a lot of clubs helped us in different ways from cooking for us to showing us around which was really interesting because you can see a community that all join together to help young people they do not know.”

Ruby Wynne, 16, from New South Wales said she enjoyed meeting young people from other countries and members of the Lions clubs.

“I have met lots of great people,” she said.

“I just thought it was a great experience to get to meet new people from other countries because even if you travel to different countries you don not get that connection with them,” she said.

“I really liked even just getting to see different parts of Australia, I have never really been outside New South Wales so it is good to actually explore your own country because you do not always do that.

“There has been lots of beautiful stuff here in South Australia and we have seen some beautiful caves.”

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