Youth exchanges build peace

Sadie and youth exchange friends

Sadie Rose, middle, with Thai Youth Exchange students at the 2012 RI Convention.

Sadie Rose Zavgren, a Rotary Youth Exchange student from the United States to Thailand, attended the 2012 RI Convention in Bangkok, Thailand, 6-9 May. The following is an excerpt of the speech she delivered during the Youth Exchange Officers Preconvention Meeting. 

When I was 12 years old, a friend of mine went on a youth exchange to Germany. She came home talking about the enriching educational year she had just lived. I decided then that one day I, too, would be an exchange student.

I chose Thailand because the country seemed unique, and who wouldn’t want to be in a country known as the Land of a Thousand Smiles. When I arrived in Thailand last August, I knew approximately five Thai words. When I look back at my first three months living in Thailand, I feel like I was underwater constantly, trying to swim to the surface to get a breath of air to communicate with the people in my life.

I now have two months left of my exchange year, and I have found myself traveling all over the country, from snorkling in the south to riding elephants in the north.  

My counselor in America once said that if every person went on a youth exchange, there would be world peace. After this year, I couldn’t agree with those wise words more.

I met some of my best friends this year. I got to meet exchange students from France, Brazil, Germany, Taiwan, Italy, Mexico, Canada, the United States, Russia, Belgium, Bermuda, and Australia. Meeting these people from all over the world has been both eye-opening and fascinating.

My world feels much smaller and friendlier now. I feel like I can travel anywhere in the world, and I’ll have someone to visit. I thank Rotary, my host family, my family in America, and all of my exchange and Thai friends who have made my year truly special and one that I will never ever forget. 

Learn more about Rotary Youth Exchange. Read more about Sadie’s exchange year and see her speech on her blog, Sadie in The Land of Smiles.

2 thoughts on “Youth exchanges build peace

  1. Rye is a fabulos Rotary program, it made my life changed a lot. I was the first exchange student from district 4490 in Brazil in 1976. I joined Rotary just after I left college and today I am the chairperson in our district. Thanks God and Rotary for have give me this opportunit .


  2. Pingback: Rotary Youth Exchange | Chatham Rotary Club

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