Alright so, this is really late considering the interviews were a week ago, but I've been pretty busy! This will probably be pretty long, so bear with me :).
We had to meet in the parking lot of a park somewhat near my house. I put off packing until I got home from after school, so I was really worried I'd be late! We got there at exactly 4:30, though, and not everyone was there yet. When we got there, I saw one of my sister's friends, Paige, who was also interviewing! It was a really nice surprise and I felt a lot better knowing someone else that was going. We all put our stuff in the car and got in there, but Junso (my Rotary club contact.. he interviewed me at the club level) was talking to my mom for a really long time. I was afraid he was talking to her about how I didn't have a club and this weekend wasn't for sure and a whole bunch of other stuff, but my mom told me he was saying good things :). In the car there were three inbounds (Ecuador, Taiwan, Brazil) and I think 6 possible outbounds. Junso told us that there were 27 of us being interviewed, but they only had 19 spots available. I started really getting nervous after that! After about an hour we arrived at Adventure Park in Visalia. There were so many people there.. everyone went around shaking hands and introducing themselves. It was hard to distinguish inbounds from outbounds.. so every greeting started with, "Where are you from?" The inbounds did their country presentations and we got to walk around and meet all of them and hear about the countries. After that, I didn't care where I went: I just wanted to go! We all ate and played games, and then a group of us played laser tag! It was all a lot of fun :). After, we went to our weekend host family's house. We stayed with Peter, who used to be the one in charge of all of this. He gave us a lot of advice. In our house was two Brazilians, Isa and Cecilia, and Ariel, another outbound, and I. It was adorable listening to them speak in Portuguese :).
We all met at San Joaquin Valley College and had breakfast and sat around for about an hour before the meeting started. All of the outbounds had to stand up and introduce themselves, saying why they wanted to exchange and where they wanted to go. They talked to us about almost all aspects of the exchange and it was really interesting. After, the inbounds left to go to the Sequoia trees, and our parents came. While they talked to our parents, we played a really interesting game called Bafa Bafa. It showed us really interesting aspects of cultural differences and not knowing how to act in a strange environment. When we finished, we sat in the room with our parents and waited to be called back for interviews! When it was finally my turn, my mom and I were really nervous. The first room was not hard at all. They asked me my strongest trait, my weakest trait, and my country selections. I chose Norway, Sweden, and Belgium. In the next room, I was asked to talk about a goal I set for myself and accomplished, a time I was mature, and if I was working out all the credits and such to graduate on time. The last room was Rotex, and they asked me about homesickness and how I would deal with it. Overall it was really short and I feel good about how it went :). After the interviews, the inbounds came back. We all went to this school and ate dinner and had a talent show. Paige and I told jokes as our talent :). It was just a lot of fun to let go and see everyone have fun. We all stood in a circle and had candles and turned the lights out. As we lit each other's candles, we had to say a wish we had for the group or inbounds or outbounds. It was really emotional and it made me realize how real everything is!
We met at a mexican restaurant, Amigos, to have breakfast. After breakfast, they talked to us about the application a little bit. When we finished, the district had their meeting to discuss a preliminary list of who was going and who wasn't. While they talked, we all went to Starbucks. We pretty much took over, and were there for hours. I talked to a lot of inbounds though and it was all just a lot of fun. When they finished, we all left. It was really sad leaving, because I didn't know if I'd ever see any of them again!
Overall, it was an amazing weekend. It opened my eyes a lot to the process and what exchange really means. I should find out next week if I made it or not :)!