Yesterday’s lunch destination was extra special. We were at Lita’s Paradise, a boutique hotel/restaurant. (I highly recommend it if you find yourself in Taiwan.) Before our meal we had a presentation from Alice, the daughter of the owners.
Alice shared her Student Rotary Exchange experience and how it has changed and defined her life. She described herself as a quiet and shy person who had been bullied and didn’t have much confidence. Her first few months with her host family in Brazil was difficult also. She was struggling to learn Portuguese and living in a small rural town, when she was accustomed to city life. Her host family gave her the ultimatum of learn the language or go home.
She worked hard to learn and got better every day. In an effort to show her host family she cared and wanted to be there, Alice asked to prepare a meal. Eggs, tomato and green onion was a traditional dish she knew from home. With that meal it all started to turn around for her time there. By the end of her trip she was the best Portuguese speaking exchange student and she made friends she will have for life. She couldn’t believe when more than 100 people turned out for her farewell party.
Since that time, she has backpacked across Mexico and wrote a book about that experience called 45 Days in Mexico, has a cookie shop at the family business, has consulted on menus for restaurants in Taipei, giving a TED talk, and more. She’s 19 and a senior in high school. WOW!
Oh, and the food was amazing! Both in presentation and flavor.