Posted by Gaspard Alavoine
Gaspard, our Rotary Youth Exchange student for 2018-19, was introduced by Past President and exchange host father, Sam Brady. Gaspard is the 6th exchange student who has been hosted by the Brady family (Panu, Mayu, Jacob, Selina. Juan Paublo).  Pictured here from L to R:  Randy Coker, Joanne Coker, Gaspard, Sam Brady and Andrew Bandler.
Gaspard has been a very special kid for the Brady family. Sam’s son Padraigh and Gaspard are almost the exact same age, share the same grade, academic classes, and athletic interests (rugby, rugby, rugby and Raptors basketball). Gaspard has helped Sam’s son with study habits and homework and all family members have grown very close to Gaspard viewing him as a family member. Sam’s proudest moments as a Canadian father include:
  1. Resisting the urge for hurt Sam for the teasing about a French surrender.
  2. Gaspard’s willingness to rip up the hills at Tremblant and Whistler/Blackcomb.
  3. Gaspard’s public speech with Sam in English to a crowd of 350 people during The Children’s Foundation Gala.
  4. Being the Athlete of the Month for a sport Gaspard has never been involved in – wrestling.
  5. After being dropped off by Randy and Joanne Coker, Gaspard said that he had a lot in common with his son Paddy and when asked “Like what?” he responded “Values, treating others with respect”.
Gaspard started his presentation by indicating that Canada was not his first choice, Japan was. However, there were no postings to Japan available and Canada was his second choice. There was a competition between the seven students who had also chosen Canada and each student was asked to write an essay on why they should be chosen to go to Canada. Gaspard has a passion for History, so he spoke of his visit to Vimy as one of the reasons he wanted to come to Canada, because of the sacrifice made by Canadians that to this day keeps France free. He also expressed a desire to experience the multi-cultural aspect of Canada and his desire to meet a cross section of people.
His experience with both the Brady’s and the Cokers has allowed him the opportunity to enjoy some of the best of Canada like lakes, sailing and walking in forests. He has travelled to great cities like Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver and would live in Vancouver in a heartbeat given the opportunity. Schooling at home is much different than at Centennial. There are no team sports for example and Gaspard indicated that he found it easier to learn. He also has an appreciation for what winter really means after experiencing -27C weather when it feels like -33C. Winters in France will now seem more like T-Shirt weather in comparison. During his time here he has learned to really enjoy basketball, baseball, hockey and rugby. He was proud to let us know that the Centennial rugby team are this year’s Bay of Quinte champions. He did admit that skating and learning to play hockey will not be in the cards.
Randy Coker expressed the thanks of the club by suggesting that it’s not about the don’ts but about the do’s… be the first, be curious, be present, be polite and be of service.