Under the new leadership of president Chris Camp, The Rotary Club of Farragut’s brief 2017-18 year already has included honoring two Knox County Sheriff’s Officers for “Service Above Self,” installing two prominent new members and hearing the international adventures of a Farragut High School Exchange Student back from Germany.
Newest members Julie Blaylock, president/CEO of Farragut West Knox Chamber of Commerce, and Stephen Krempasky, executive director of Shop Farragut/Farragut Business Alliance, were among the members hearing how Alex Kail literally has made new friends from around the world.
And similar to RCF’s Sheriff’s Office honorees Sgt. Jason Overton and Officer Josh Clemons, Kail’s experience in Germany was life-changing.
Kail, an FHS graduate, returned from Germany “a lot more in touch with other cultures,” he said as RCF featured speaker during the club’s Wednesday, July 19, meeting in Fox Den Country Club ballroom.
He returned in late spring following a school year in Paderborn, near Düsseldorf, which started in August 2016.
Before his experience in Germany, “everything I knew about myself and about my surroundings were based on Tennessee. … Everyone I knew was from Tennessee,” Kail, 18, said. “When I moved to Germany not only did I learn the German lifestyle, but I learned the cultures of a lot of other Exchange Students.”
For example, “When I put faces to the people I met from Argentina, it makes Argentina that much more close,” Kail said. “… The world is now a little smaller.
“Before, the only time I would look at a plane ticket to India would be out of curiosity or [for] business. But now I have a friend, probably one of my best friends [among] the Exchange Students, to visit over in India,” Kail added. “… I now have a connection to that culture. If I make a trip there I can stay with him and we can do things together. I can meet his friends, his family and learn about the Indian culture.
“Exchange Students are your family.”
With other Exchange Students, “We had Rotary weekends. The first one was in September I believe,” Kail said. “… To be part of that family is a totally new experience. It was a little eye-opening I would say.”
In October “was a tour of 10 days around Germany,” Kail said.
“Then there was the Europe Tour, which was in April, and that was 23 days around, I believe, 15 countries,” Kail said. “… That was an amazing experience.”
Despite all of his positive experiences while based in Germany, “I have a new appreciation for home,” Kail said. “… You realize in yourself what matters about home. How patriotic I was and didn’t even know it. I think that was really important to learn.”
In terms of communication, “I don’t love learning languages, I just love what it opens,” Kail said. “When you learn the German language you’re open to a whole culture. … When you speak German with them it’s a lot different than if you’re speaking English with them.
“Yes, they speak English, but you’re not one of them unless you’re living with them and speaking German,” he added.
To help him retain the German culture, “I’m going to work at [Restaurant] Linderhof, which is a German restaurant here in Farragut,” said Kail, who will attend The University of Tennessee, Knoxville this fall.
“… Moving forward I would like to learn new languages, such as Japanese,” he added. “… I’d like to do a semester, at least, in Japan.”
As for a career, “I was looking with my father [Keith Kail] into a career in the State Department or possibly the CIA — but don’t tell anybody,” Kail said to membership laughter. “Something that involves a lot of travel and dealing with other cultures and global problems.”
As for education, “I think personally I prefer our education system,” Kail said, adding German subject matter was more concentrated on specific “majors” while “there’s a lot more lecture time and not so much [student] involvement.”
To close his address, “Thank you Bill Nichols and Nancy
Welch for making this possible for me,” Kail said about his two RCF sponsors.