Home' South Gippsland Sentinel-Times : February 21, 2017 Edition Contents PAGE 24 - THE SOUTH GIPPSLAND SENTINEL-TIMES, TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2017
LOCAL girl Samara Taranto has just
returned from the trip of a lifetime.
At the age of just 16, Samara spent 12
months living and studying in Germany
as a Rotary exchange student.
With limited German language skills,
Samara hit the ground running the min-
ute she arrived in Germany.
“I did not speak German! I could say
hello, goodbye and thank you, but that
was about it. It was super scary,” Sa-
“My plane from Frankfurt to Munich
was cancelled because of snow, so I had
to catch the train by myself. Speaking
no German, I found that really scary.
“But I made it.”
Samara stayed in Bavaria, just ten
minutes from the Austrian border, and
stayed with four different homestay
families during her stint abroad.
“It was strange and different, but it
was also super exciting; to be with an-
other family and to see how that family
works and operates, and their family
life,” Samara said.
“Every family had something different
After her step-sister participated in
an international exchange, Samara was
inspired to try it out for herself.
“I approached Rotary myself,” Sama-
“I had always thought it might be a
good idea, and I was really interested in
finding out more. And the Rotary club
were super helpful with the process.”
Attending school in Germany with
5,000 other students, Samara quickly
improved her German language skills.
“Now I wouldn’t say I’m fluent, but I
can get myself around Germany pretty
fine speaking the language,” Samara
“Everyone speaks English, and they
speak it almost better than me! Friends
of mine would get better scores in Eng-
lish classes than me.”
Her time spent at school and making
friends was one of the highlights of the
“School in Germany was great. All my
friends spoke English with me at the
start. The school was pretty calm, and
they helped me along the way.”
Sharing cultural differences was also
an important part of bonding and mak-
ing friends at school.
“I shared Vegemite, but no-one liked
it! They enjoyed the Tim Tams, though,”
“Being an Australian in Germany, I
found it weird how little people know
about Australia. They know it’s far away,
but I got so many strange questions.
Like “How many Australia’s would fit in
Germany?” and the classic “Do you ride
Kangaroos to school?” They were actu-
ally pretty serious about some of these
Living in Europe provided many op-
portunities for Samara to travel to dif-
“I got to go through Austria so many
times, and I learned to ski there,” Sa-
“I went to Italy three times, and I got
to travel the east side of Germany. Went
to Berlin and met my mum for three
days. We went to Hanover to meet rela-
tives I’d never met before.”
Samara’s mother, Sandy, was actually
born in Germany, before immigrating to
Australia aged 11.
For Samara, her German family heri-
tage played a big part in her choosing to
“That’s part of the reason why I chose
Germany as my destination.
After hearing Mum and Nanny speak
about Germany growing up, I was just
really interested in what a kid my age
would be like in Germany,” Samara
“If Mum had have stayed in Germany,
I could have been one of these kids, so
that really drove me.”
After arriving back home in January,
Samara is now settling down, ready to
tackle Year 11 at Leongatha Secondary
She is studying German as one of her
“This trip has fired up a passion in
me for learning languages, and I’m
learning a bit of Italian at the moment,”
“If you’re thinking about exchange and
think you can tackle it, I really recom-
mend it. If you’ve been thinking about
it, just go for it.”
Samara and her family thanked the
Rotary Club for their support and as-
sistance during her exchange program.
Samara’s German experience
Rotary exchange student, Samara Taranto, has recently returned
from a 12-month stint abroad in Germany.
YOUNG leaders from across the
Bass Coast Shire were given the op-
portunity to talk leadership skills
with their Mayor, Pamela Rothfield,
at a workshopping day on Tuesday,
Students from various schools
within the shire met at the Old Won-
thaggi Post Office to hone their lead-
ership skills as part of the Young
But it was a visit from the Mayor of
Bass Coast Cr Pamela Rothfield, and
Deputy Mayor Cr Brett Tessari that
proved to be the highlight of the day.
Students were given the chance to
put questions to the Mayor, and to
pick her brains about good leader-
“I believe in collaboration and
good relationships with people,” Cr
“It’s important to collaborate, and
to listen to the whole community.”
The participating young lead-
ers then chatted with the mayor
and deputy mayor in a meet and
greet session. Students asked such
questions as “How will council de-
cisions affect young people within
the shire?” and “What is involved in
creating a good plan for the commu-
Cr Rothfield spoke of the council’s
recent engagement period, and how
their upcoming council plan will be
a reflection of what the community
truly wants and needs.
“This plan affects everything, it’s
the basis of all future decision mak-
Bass Coast Shire CEO, Paul Buck-
ley, also attended the leadership
workshop, and spoke with students
about what drives him in his work
within the shire.
“For me, it’s being a part of an
organisation that is recognised for
being responsible for making posi-
tive changes in the community,” Mr
“To have an organisation that is
focused on making a positive dif-
ference in the community, and im-
proving the quality of life within the
The Young Leaders program in-
volves school leaders from across
the shire, with the current group in-
cluding two VCAL students for the
first time since 2007.
The Young Leaders work with
council via workshops, asking ques-
tions and leadership discussions.
In the past decade, the awards
have been open to two students from
every school across Bass Coast, with
students completing Grade 5 and
Year 10 nominated by their schools.
As many students are now choos-
ing VCAL rather than the traditional
model of VCE, the council has in-
troduced the opportunity for each
of the three Bass Coast VCAL pro-
grams to nominate a Young Leader
The program ties in with the Bass
Coast Young Leaders Award which
was introduced by the council in
2007 to recognise young leaders in
Bass Coast Schools, and recognises
students who display qualities in
one or more of the following areas:
• Team work
• Academic excellence
• Sporting excellence
• Outstanding improvement
• Arts and culture.
Deputy Mayor Brett Tessari, Mayor Pamela Rothfield, and Bass Coast Shire CEO Paul Buckley fielded
questions from a room full of Bass Coast’s young leaders at a leadership skills day on Tuesday, February
Young leaders receive
advice from the top
Students from schools across
the shire took the opportunity
to put questions to the Mayor of
Bass Coast. Common questions
included the impact of council
decision on the youth of the area.
Family fun at
WONTHAGGI North Primary
School celebrated the return of a new
school year with a family picnic.
Principal Andrew Strickland said it
was a fantastic opportunity for staff
to mingle with students and their
families on a less formal basis.
“A few fun activities saw the kids
getting involved in the egg and spoon
and balloon races, while the three-
legged races saw even the grown-ups
having a go.”
The Botteril family: Evan, Martine, Charlotte and Michelle enjoyed the
Tyler with mum, Colleen enjoyed
the picnic together.
ABOVE: Jarrah, Matilda and Alani
get ready for the balloon race.
LEFT: Assistant principal Wendy
Nicol and Grade 5 student Kyi Kyi
were all smiles before the three-
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