It only seems like yesterday that Finnish Rotary exchange student Vera Toppara arrived in Corowa, but recently at Rotary she gave her final presentation on her year in Australia.
Little did we know when Vera arrived last July, that she was such a highly rated athlete. In fact she was rank 3rd in discus and shot-put at Under-16 level in Finland.
This explains why she has easily accounted for all comers in those events at school and regional level, setting records that will stand for quite some time.
As an aside the open aged boys at Corowa High commented that Vera only had to use a 4-kilo shot-put and they had to use a 5-kilo, so she took the 5-kilo and beat their best by over one meter.
In fact, sport seems to come naturally to Vera, having taken up rowing and performing very well at that.
She then took on cricket - a game she had never heard of let alone played before - with Corowa High and performed very well, so well in fact that Prime Television news did an article on her.
Rugby League was another game she knew nothing about and took to like a duck to water, starring in the Corowa Cougars girl’s tag rugby team, scoring and converting a try in her last appearance.
Like all exchange students, Vera had to adapt to a very different environment to what she had at home and she has done it brilliantly, being hosted by five different families, some with kids at home and most without.
Also, like all exchange students, Vera has seen more of Australia than most Australians.
A highlight of every exchange year is the ‘Rock to Reef Safari’.
This year 46 students from NSW, VIC and SA spent 21 days going to places like Cooper Pedy, Kings Canyon, Uluru, Alice Springs, Cairns, the Great Barrier Reef, Surfers Paradise and Sydney (including a bridge climb).
Towards the end of her year Vera did her debut at the Anglican and Presbyterian function held on June 22. On that night Vera was partnered by another exchange student from France, Kilian Vele, who was being hosted in Albury.
Vera has been a delight to have in Corowa and the Rotary Club will be very sad to see her leave, she has been a credit not only to herself, but her family and country as well.
The Rotary Club of Corowa wishes her all the best for her future and knows one day we may be watching and cheering for her at the Olympics in shot-put or discus.