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!
By Randy Bretz, Rotary Club of Lincoln, Nebraska, USA
If you think there’s not much your local Rotary club can do to foster international relations, think again. I have some ideas for you that are relatively simple and can help establish positive relations not just among individuals but entire countries.
My club is located in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska, home of the University of Nebraska. In fact, we have four universities and colleges in Lincoln. Each semester and often during the summer, these institutions host international scholars and students. Typically, people visiting or studying at a local institution are very interested in connecting with people in the community.
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.
By Fernando Pinto Nercelles, member of the Rotary Club of Pehuén de Las Condes, Chile; District Alumni Committee Chair; and District Peace Fellowships Subcommittee Chair.
The last couple of years have been especially challenging for Rotary members, particularly for those of us in leadership positions in our clubs or districts.
My district’s Alumni Committee that I have led for some years has approached involving our alumni from a traditional perspective: through one-on-one and case-by-case contact. Interesting but insufficient.
Mia Henderson, 2019-20 Youth Exchange Student from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to Madrid, Spain
When I was 16, Rotary offered me a chance to experience life beyond anything I had known before. After attending a meeting about Rotary Youth Exchange, I decided to apply to study in Spain.
It took months of hard work to prepare. But before I knew it, it was time to pack up my things and leave. I arrived for my 2019-20 exchange in an unfamiliar country, meeting people I didn’t know, who spoke a language I didn’t speak well. But even though this was my most difficult path yet, I was at peace.