With stamps in his passports from Spain, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Switzerland, Germany, Italy … it’s easy to see Brock Bastian loves to travel.
Even when the flight takes forever (or the plane has to turn around because a passenger had a heart attack), the 16-year-old doesn’t mind. And that’s a good thing because it will take Brock more than 24 hours to reach his next destination. For the next 10 months he will live and go to school in Oruro, Bolivia, as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange program. He’s sponsored by the Rotary Club of El Dorado Hills.
“I just think it’s an adventure,” Brock said, explaining that he got his adventurous side from his mom Bonnie Bastian, who discovered RYE during an Internet search. “She asked me if I wanted to go and I said, ‘Yeah, that would be sweet.’”
Brock and his family lived in Spain for six months. He said he’s excited to practice and learn more Spanish at his host family’s hometown and the Anglo Americano school. Brock attended Oak Ridge High School and has already earned his GED. The school year in Bolivia will be Brock’s chance to supplement his already worldly education, which will likely include a college degree from BYU in a few years — field of study undecided at this point.
Bolivia is situated in South America, sharing its western border with Peru and Chile, its northern and eastern border with Brazil and its southern border with Paraguay and Argentina. Oruro, three hours south of La Paz, is home to about 250,000 people and mining — tin, silver and copper — drives the area’s economy. Brock will undoubtedly encounter a number of culture shocks in the city but first he has to acclimate to the elevation. Oruro sits about 12,000 feet above sea level. That’s 11,265 feet higher than home in El Dorado Hills.
Not worried about distance (or elevation), Brock’s dad Stan Bastian said, “We think it’s a great opportunity for Brock. He’s going to come back and say, ‘I did that by myself and I’m not afraid to try (new things).”
Brock’s not the only one of the eight Bastian children with the travel bug. One of his brothers lived in Mexico and Chile; another in Nicaragua. He’s learned a lot from his own and his siblings’ adventures, Stan pointed out, and, the proud dad said, “He showed a lot of responsibility when he was at Oak Ridge. He’s going to do well.”
Brock leaves July 12 and said he’ll miss his family and driving. Exchange students are not allowed to drive in their host country. Dad said he’ll miss Brock’s willingness to shuttle his younger siblings from place to place. Although, Stan added, he and his wife look forward to only having four children at home. That is until the Bastian’s exchange student arrives. The family will welcome Julia Garcia, 16, from Brazil later this month.