Rotary Youth Exchange returns: the making of a video

Rotary Youth Exchange student
A video about Rotary Youth Exchange captures one student’s story and the many people who go into making an exchange successful.

By Logan Johnson, Youth Exchange and Youth Protection Promotions and Engagement Specialist at Rotary International

A few years ago, volunteers of the Rotary Youth Exchange program were sending thousands of students around the globe each year to learn new languages, discover new cultures, and become global citizens. Then COVID-19 brought almost every aspect of the program to a screeching halt. Like many other aspects of Rotary, the program found new life online with virtual exchanges, which offered a safe alternative to in-person exchanges.

But many anticipated the return of in-person exchanges, and as of May 2022 in-person exchanges were planned and are happening worldwide for the first time in over two years!

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A Rotary Fellowship that shreds

SURF booth at BroAM
Paulo Melo of Pacific Beach Rotaract Club, from left, with Derren Lechuga of the Rotary Club of San Diego Coastal, Karla Prieto, Brett Morey, Founder of SURF, and Robert Chamberlain of the Rotary Club of San Marcos during the 2022 Switchfoot BroAM

By Raquel D’Garay-Juncal, president of the Rotary Club of Worldwide Impact (District 1550) and a member of The Rotary Foundation Cadre of Technical Advisers

In June, I had the chance to revisit with Brett Morey of Surfers Unite Rotarian Fellowship and review all of the exciting activities the fellowship has been up to.

I first met Brett at the Rotary International Conference in Atlanta back in 2017 when he was strolling through the House of Friendship with a surfboard under his arm. Brett, a native San Diegan and Past President of the Rotary Club of La Jolla Golden Triangle, recalls that the moment we met “I knew we’d become friends and that we needed her on board.”

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My Rotary youth exchange: Venezuela to the United States

Anniela Carracedo
Anniela Carracedo took part in a 2019-20 Rotary Youth Exchange from Venezuela to Mississippi, USA.

By Anniela Carracedo, member of the Rotary Club of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, USA, and a Rotary Youth Exchange Alumna

When I decided to become a Rotary Youth Exchange student, I had no idea how much it would change my life and the lives of everyone around me.

In 2017, I was invited to the Interact Club of Valencia, Venezuela, following my parents, who joined the Rotary Club of Valencia. I joined the club because I wanted to make a difference in my local community. I had seen Venezuela go from being one of the healthiest countries in Latin America to experiencing one of the worst humanitarian and economic crises in the modern world.

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Rotaract and Rotary serving together

Ignacio Gonzales Mendez in front of One Rotary Center
Ignacio Gonzales Mendez in front of One Rotary Center during a meeting of the Elevate Rotaract Task Force in 2020

By Ignacio Gonzalez Mendez, a member of the Rotaract Club of Oriente de Talca, Chile

I must confess, I didn’t set out to find Rotary. Rotary found me. I became involved in Rotary through a series of fortunate events which has changed the way I look at everything.

When I was 13, I volunteered for the Red Cross and that experience led me years later to create a project to establish a first-aid station in my high school. At my graduation ceremony, I was surprised with an award from the local Rotary club for my volunteer work with the Red Cross. The award was in honor of one of my teachers, who passed away unexpectedly. Receiving the award and knowing that my teacher had appreciated my efforts gave me more inspiration to keep volunteering.

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Using our unique talents in Rotaract

Martinez Belo with friend
Maria Valentina Martinez Belo (left) poses with one of the models for the Project Rosa fashion show that benefits cancer patients.

By Maria Valentina Martinez Belo, Rotaract Club of Ing. Boris Walter, Venezuela

We all have different talents. It’s what makes each of us special and unique. I have always felt a strong desire to organize big events and use my creativity to help others and make them feel special. Through Rotaract, I have been able to do that, changing my life and those of the people I have been able to serve.

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