Posted on Sep 30, 2019

My name is Amandine Gerlache. I am 17 years old and I from Celles a village of about 500 people near Dinant in Belgium. Celles is considered to be one of the most beautiful villages in all of Belgium!

My sister, Stéphy was a Rotary Exchange student to Mexico two years ago and really enjoyed the year. It was a very positive experience for her and made me think I would like to do the same thing. I wanted to experience a different lifestyle; school, food, culture, scenery and be able to compare this with my life in Belgium. This would help me make decisions in my future life.
I love sports. Everything. Especially volleyball, running, wake-boarding and water skiing. But most of all I love skiing. I joined the Scouts when I was six-years old and in 2018 became a Scout leader.
My sister Stéphy is 20 years old and I have a younger brother, Arnaud who is 15 years old. Stéphy is at university studying bioengineering. My dad Danny, is a baker and our family own two patisseries. My mum Myriam is the manager. I occasionally work in the patisseries and also do some babysitting to earn money. 
I love travelling. In 2017 I went on a school trip to Burkina Faso to do volunteer work with the Red Cross, building and decorating a school for children from 7 to 15 years of age. The children were very happy but did not know any other life. However, it was shocking for me to see such poverty. The music and dancing were very interesting.
I have had holidays with my family in; Poland, Spain, Mexico, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, Morocco and Iceland! But, my favourite place is New Zealand! One thing I love about doing an exchange is being able to live with New Zealand families and really experience life in this country. It is completely different to just having a holiday.
My school day in Belgium is from 8.30am until 4pm except for Wednesday when I finish at 12md. I attend a Catholic College in Dinant of about 500 students. My cousin is a maths teacher there and she takes my brother and I to school. It is about a 15-minute drive. Next year I will study economics, maths and English as my optional subjects. My favourite is economics and last year I received a merit award in this subject! As part of my schooling next year I will also do a Red Cross First Aid and Resuscitation course. 
I look forward to meeting many people, making new friends and having lots of different experiences here in New Zealand. I am willing to try anything! My host families are very important to me and I am very grateful to them and to Rotary for giving me this experience. I am sure this year will be very important in my life.