RYE Student Austen Britt Shares his experiences in Turkey
Recently, the Fernandina Beach Rotary Club welcomed the return of Austen Britt, the West Nassau High School graduate the club sponsored as a Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) student in Turkey this past year. Britt said he became interested in the exchange student program after meeting students from Brazil and Croatia that the club brought to Nassau County. After completing the intensive screening process required by RYE, Britt was accepted into the program and traveled to Istanbul to begin his year immersed in the Turkish culture. While in Istanbul, Britt attended a private school in the mountains of Marmara where he assisted in teaching English to other students. He also attended classes to learn Turkish, but admitted that it was a difficult language to master and he was only proficient enough to ask for directions or order off the menu in local restaurants. Britt said he also visited western Turkey and the Black Sea region as well as traveling to the Biblical town of Ephesus and the ruins of the ancient city of Troy. He noted that he was constantly surrounded by history in Istanbul with its many Greek, Roman and Byzantine influences, but that the city also had modern buildings and amenities. He said he grew very close to his host family and has kept in constant contact with them since his return. In closing, Britt said he believed his time in Turkey exemplified the RYE mission of building a cultural link of understanding and peace between the U.S. and other countries.