Natpapat Alapach has been in Sidney for five-and-a-half months out of a planned one-year exchange and she is getting a first-class tour of the community while she learns about Canadian culture.
Alapach, or Narmfah as she is called by her friends, is a Grade 10 exchange student from Thailand. She is attending Parkland Secondary School while she is in Sidney on an exchange trip arranged through the Sidney-by-the-Sea Rotary Club.
“I am liking it,” she said of her time in the community so far.
Alapach was on a tour of municipal facilities on Feb. 13, accompanied by local Rotarians Rick Patterson and Kenny Podmore (who is also a town councillor and Sidney’s official Town Crier).
“I want to have new experiences here and learn better English,” she added.
Alapach and her Rotary sponsors had dropped in to town hall to visit Mayor Larry Cross and followed that up with a tour of the Sidney Fire Department and ride around town in a fire truck. For Alapach, who hails from a city of around 100,000 people, Sidney presents a change in lifestyle and pace.
“People are nice and friendly here,” she said.
Patterson, Sidney-by-the-Sea Rotary’s Youth Exchange Officer, said the national club started the program in the 1970s and works with 30 different countries. While Alapach comes from Thailand, Patterson said local students who go overseas can end up in any one of those other nations.
“The idea behind it,” he explained, “is to make the world a better place through better learning and understanding.”
Exchange students, he continued, stay with local families and learn more about the country where they are visiting. Getting that first-hand knowledge, Patterson said, will hopefully expose young people to new places and people, who will return home and share that with others.