Rick Fiedorec introduced our speaker Gabriela (Gaby) Calizaya who needed little introduction because we all had such a great chat prior to the bell. For those who are newer to the club and don't know Gaby, she was our inbound Rotary Exchange Student in 2011-2012, almost 10 years ago!

Gaby spoke about her life since her Rotary Youth Exchange experience with our club, which took place during 2011 – 2012.  Returning to Peru when that ended, she applied to University in August.  As students usually begin university in March, they asked her why she had waited.  When she explained that she had been taking part in the Rotary Youth Exchange, they were very interested in that, and saw it as an asset.  She was speaking English very well due to her experience here.  In 2015, she had an opportunity to do a university exchange and went to attend school in Spain, in Ávila, about an hour from Madrid.  It is a very small town with an ancient city wall, with the new city beyond it.  While there, she took the opportunity to see a lot of other places.  During March there was a two-week break, and she visited places like Rome and Santiago Compostela, walking part of the Camino de Santiago.  They started in Ávila, and walked 15 to 20 km. every day for five days.  Spain has a lot of holidays, and with Ávila being such a small place, she took the opportunity to visit many other places.  She visited Salamanca, and Valencia which is close to Barcelona.  She also enjoyed the seaside.  Other interesting trips were to Marrakech, Morocco, and Madrid and the small towns near there.  When she finished her time at university in Ávila, she still had six months on her visa, so she traveled around Europe.  She visited many places, including a second trip to Madrid and Rome, and then Napoli, the Isle of Capri, and Florence in Italy, and Santorini and Athens in Greece.  She ventured as far as Prague, Amsterdam, Barcelona, and Paris.  Returning home, she still had two more years of university.  In Peru, before you can receive a degree, you must complete an internship, and she did that at an oil and gas company in Lima, working in their finance department for a year.  After that she wrote her thesis, a marketing plan, and completed more classes before her final degree.
The first case of Covid 19 in Lima was found in early March this year.  This began a two-week quarantine beginning in mid-March.   By April, Covid was getting out of hand, and the whole country shut down.  Lima was very quiet.  No traffic in what were usually very busy streets.  Until the end of July, people were only allowed out of their homes one day a week for food.  It was difficult for some people, as Lima has a population of about 8 to 10 million, and it wasn’t until June that people were allowed to take public transportation.  They couldn’t leave their houses without a reason and the military were watching.  Hospitals were full and many people were dying, and it was very tragic.  Currently they are experiencing a second wave.
In November there was a crisis in their government, and there were many protests.  In December many people were out and about in crowds.
Gaby will be finishing school soon, and she has accepted a job just yesterday.  Her hope is to eventually get a job working for the government.
Her Youth Exchange experience in Canada was the first time she ever travelled without her parents, and she learned a lot during that time.  One of the important things she learned was to be able to adapt, and because of this, she has been able to help other young people she has met who are experiencing their first time away.  She has met many friends while travelling, and keeps in touch with them.  While in Paris she actually connected with a girl she knew from attending high school in Kingston.
Heather Kembel provided our traditional thanks, with the new tradition…a virtual loaf of bread.
To see Gaby's presentation, including the many places she has visited, follow this link;