Garrett Golden, 17, a member of the Penn Yan Academy Class of 2019 isn’t celebrating his senior year with the rest of his classmates here. He worked hard as a junior last year so he could spend his senior year in Europe as a Rotary Exchange student.

“I wanted to be a Rotary Youth Exchange student not only to travel, but to experience different cultures, meet new people, and truly see how different the world is compared to the way of life I’m used to. It seemed like traveling half way around the world would be a great way of accomplishing that,” he wrote from Germany recently.

The classes he is taking in Germany will not count toward his high school diploma, but he will be able to get his PYA diploma next summer because of the heavy course load he took as a junior.

June 1, 2019, Garrett will be going on a 3-week trip around Europe with other Rotary Inbound Youths in his District 1890.  They will be traveling all through Italy, France, United Kingdom, Spain, and the Netherlands.

Garrett, whose parents are Jamie and Jennifer Golden, left for Flensburg, Germany Aug. 15 and will return end of June or in July 2019. He will be there through the holidays as well as his 18th birthday in February. There, he is staying with the Heinrich and Silke Rodewald family. 

His mother says he has always been adventuresome, and has never been concerned about being like everyone else.

He told his mother about two years ago that he wanted to be an exchange student. She told him to find out more and get back to her. “A few months later he came to me again and said he read about it on the Rotary website and he talked to his school counselor and needed my approval to get more information,” she explains.

Daine Krans of Penn Yan Rotary says the club is pleased to have sponsored Garrett as a Rotary District 7120 Youth Exchange Student. “It is the first time in many years that we have had an outbound student,” she says.

For now, Garrett stays in touch with his parents and brother Lucas, who was married just 10 days before Garrett left for Europe, through social media.

“We love seeing photos of his adventure,” says Jennifer.

What does the future hold for Garrett? He says he is planning to attend college, but he’s still undecided about a major. He writes, “I have already met so many amazing people, made connections, and had fantastic experiences on this exchange in just the 6 weeks that I’ve been here that I don’t know how much my thinking will change by the end of this journey here. I do know that I will want to continue to travel. Nicht alle, die wandern, sind verloren (Not all who wander are lost).”