The trip of a lifetime awaits River Quitslund as he leaves for Ching Mai, Thailand Monday. Quitslund applied for the foreign exchange student program through the Petersburg Rotary Club.
“This was kind of a split-second decision,” Quitslund said. “My guidance counselor asked if I would be interested and I applied.”
He was not interested at first, but after discussing the program with his mother, Karen, he realized what a great opportunity it would be.
Quitslund explained that his mother wanted to be a part of something like this at one time in her life and he feels special that he is getting an opportunity to do something that she was unable to do.
“I hope to gain a new language through this experience,” he stated. “I would also like to gain some life perspective. This is the first time I will be away from home, but I feel really good about it.”
Quitslund moved to Petersburg with his family when he was five years old and not knowing much of life outside of this community, he has spent a lot of time doing research regarding this place he will call home for the next 10 months.
He will spend his time in Thailand with three different host families. His first family has a daughter that works for the United States Embassy.
“She will be with us for the first three weeks,” he said. “That will make my transition easier, by the time I get to my third family, I should have the language down.”
“I have been studying the language,” Quitslund stated. “I have taken classes online and completed about 10 hours and can speak about 40 different phrases.”
Quitslund has known he would be going on an exchange since September of 2011 but just found out in January that he would be going to Thailand.
“My first choices were Turkey and France,” he stated. “But I knew I wasn't guaranteed to be chosen for either of those destinations, and I am really happy to be going to Thailand.”
He also explained that this program will look good on his college applications and his future depends on a good education.
“I want to go into the medical field after graduation,” Quitslund said. “Either a medical doctor or a psychologist.”
He explained he has always been interested in medicine and after taking a psychology class in school it really made him feel that is something he would like to do.
“This trip will not only teach me about another culture, but it will also give me insight into human interaction and perspective,” he said.
The Rotary Club will allow Quitslund to take three trips to see the country while he is there.
“I really want to see some of the temples,” he stated. “But the ability to see most of the country is at my fingertips. I am really looking forward to this opportunity.”