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About Vernonia's voice. (Vernonia, OR) 2007-current | View Entire Issue (June 15, 2017)
& Jessika Goodman
& Shaina Anderson
McKenzie Willard & Jessica Williams
Dylan Terry & Yoonae Kweon
Michael Timm & Allissa Terrill
La Korn and Auf Weidersehen
We’re Pongwiwatt Kookiwattana and
Kathy. We’re representing the foreign exchange
students of 2017.
We were wondering a lot about what
the goal of this speech is. We wanted to make it
about our time here, but in a funny way, and we
also wanted to give you something more, which
is where the global aspect of our group comes in.
So instead of making this 10 minutes
of how grateful we are, we’re going to tell you
about our year here in Vernonia from different
We went through good and bad times
together, and this journey was not perfect. But
we learned a lot and had a good time.
We are 11 students from 8 different
nations on 3 different continents separated by
the 7 seas all over the world. Together we spent
a total of 3,129 days here. We participated in 7
We rode donkeys in trash bags. We ran a
marathon. We went cliff jumping. We watched
all 8 Harry Potter movies in one go. We painted
the red bus line. I personally learned how to
make top ramen at 5am in a frying pan with
no water. If that doesn’t teach you anything is
possible I don’t know what will. We did a polar
bear plunge on New Year’s Eve. We planted 1,500
trees in forestry. We got our first school lunch on
the very last day of school.
And people were very interested in our
cultures, too, for example our languages. Well,
mostly the swear words, but you gotta start
I think it’s safe to say that we all changed
a lot here. Before I came here, I was worried if I
would find friends. Little did I know that all of
Germany’s craziest people would end up in the
same town. I mean, what are the odds? So thanks
for putting up with us!
Doing all those things, we learned a lot.
Team building. Discipline. Time and money
management. Independence. The value of
friends. How to use a chainsaw. Not to eat a
dozen donuts all by yourself. How to get money
out of an ATM. How to run a washing machine.
The struggle is real for some of us. How to
pronounce and spell each other’s names. Pong-
wi-watt koo-kit-wat-ta-na. There you go.
Now our year is coming to an end. The
first one of us will be leaving on the 8th of June.
The journey is almost over. The goal was, still is,
the journey. In just a few days we’ll all be leaving
Vernonia, and this is where we’re exactly in the
same place as the Seniors. We’re going to define
our dreams and, simultaneously our future.
Will Smith once said “if you’re not
making someone else’s life better, you’re wasting
your time,” so today, we, the foreign exchange
students, want to give you, everyone in this gym,
the inspiration to make someone else’s life better.
To make everyone’s life better on this planet. We
know that we can do it, as a global community.
This town, this school is moving towards that
goal every single day, simply by making us a part
of your families.
Graduation is a really big event in
life. So, what’s the next milestone? For many,
it’s probably college graduation, marriage or
the start of a family. And when we reach that
milestone, I hope for all of us that were going to
be content with what we achieved. Because today,
looking back at the ten months I spent in this
community, I am content. I wish the same thing
to all of us when we reach the next milestone.
Altogether we just want to say that we
had a wonderful year here, and we owe that to a
lot of people. We want to thank or host families,
the families Hennessy, Davis, Lindauer, Rethwill,
Gump,Tierney, Beamish, Whiteman and finally
We want to thank Cathy Ward, Teresa
Petersen and Dusty, our local coordinators.
We want to thank all of our coaches, especially
Lord Byron Benjamin Brown the third and Coach
Barnes. You will always have a special place in
We want to thank all of the teachers,
office keepers, lunch ladies, janitors, bus drivers
and all the others that work in school and helped
us so much throughout the year. Special thanks
here goes to Ms. Safier for all of her commitment
towards the exchange students, and also for
practicing this speech with us and making sure
you halfway understand what we’re saying.
We especially want to thank Kailia, our
foreign exchange representative. You’re amazing
and we love you so much!
So thanks y’all!
You’re an amazing community.
Pongwiwatt Kookiwattana ~ Thailand
Kathy Will~ Germany