Rotary Youth Exchange has touched my entire family

Linda Mulhern, daughter, and Chile Exchange Student

The author, far right, and her daughter with a former Rotary Youth Exchange student from Chile.

By Linda Mulhern, a member of the Rotary Club of St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

When you become a Rotary Youth Exchange student, you never imagine how it might affect you in the long term. In my case, my exchange has connected my family in more ways than one.

As a Youth Exchange student to Sweden in 1979-80, I learned a lot about what I was capable of doing on my own, my strengths and weaknesses, and what it took to overcome obstacles. I had an incredible year in Sweden, and still speak Swedish fluently. I have contacts with many friends and communicate regularly with my host parents and host sisters.

After my exchange, I met my husband in ROTEX, a group for Rotary Youth Exchange alumni. He had been a Youth Exchange student to Argentina, and we bonded over travel stories. Once we had kids, I knew our experiences might inspire them to travel.

Our son has taken part in a Rotary Youth Exchange to Turkey and our daughter is currently on a Youth Exchange in Finland. She is one of three girls on a boys hockey team and loves it. We have also hosted over 20 Youth Exchange students over the years.

Dinner conversation
I have used my Swedish in my profession, and both my husband and I have been able to reach out to people with our language abilities. Our children are able to talk about world events at the dinner table, and we have received many compliments from our children’s friends about how fun it is to talk about world cultures, languages, and politics at the dinner table. They love the laughter, but also realize that to follow the conversation, they need to stay current on world events.

I am most proud of my kids because they will find ways to be inclusive with everyone they meet, find common interests, and start conversations to learn more about the world.

Share your Youth Exchange experience. Your story can inspire others to travel and learn as well.

Learn more about Rotary Youth Exchange

4 thoughts on “Rotary Youth Exchange has touched my entire family

  1. Both Rotary Youth Exchange and Group Study Exchange change lives, families, organisations especially schools AND facilitate real learning. Spoken as a GSE member from Australia to South West Pennsylvania in 1972. I was able to bring Work Experience Programs to Queensland Schools in Australia and this changed many young learners lives! Ken Gilbert now a member of Armidale Central Rotary in Australia


  2. Another Great ROTARY YOUTH EXCHANGE STORY I look forward to sharing this tomorrow morning at our farewell breakfast for our current District 9465 exchange students in Wetsern Australia.


  3. Pingback: Rotary Youth Exchange has touched my entire family | The Rotary Club of Carteret

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