A larger than life youth exchange experience

Youth Exchange Students on European Tour

Youth Exchange Students take part in a year-end European Tour.

By Joel Dzuba, Rotary Exchange Student from Ontario, Canada, to Lower Saxony, Germany

It would be impossible to pick a favourite memory from my exchange in Germany due to the sheer number of opportunities I had and dreams I lived. From sailing in the Baltic Sea, to walking in the North Sea, to swimming in the Mediterranean, there are simply too many experiences to pick a favourite. Continue reading

Rotary Youth Exchange gave me hope for peace

Kate Roff

Kate Roff

By Kate Roff, a former Rotary Youth Exchange student

Being lost in the middle of the bustling, hazy, city of Bangkok, Thailand, is not ideal for a 17-year-old Australian girl. But, it was a moment that changed my life.

I was on Rotary Youth Exchange and despite excellent instructions from my caring host-family; I had no idea how the intricate bus system worked, and hadn’t mastered the language yet to ask. After boarding the wrong bus for the third time, Continue reading

Rotary means family

Emily Koerner with her father (left) and the past president of the club (right).

Emily Koerner with her father (left) and Peter Singagliese, past president of the Central Ocean Rotary club (right).

By Emily Koerner, a former Interactor, native of Toms River, New Jersey, and student at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, USA

I often wonder what other people think about when they hear the word “Rotarian.”

Since I was about 10 years old, I attended many service events with my dad (a member and past president of the Central Ocean Rotary Club in Toms River, New Jersey). The members welcomed me with open arms, laughs, and, of course, a ton of work to be done. Continue reading

What does it mean to be human?

Misaki Otani

Misaki Otani, an Interact member in District 5170 (California, USA)

By Misaki Otani, member of Interact in District 5170  (California, USA)                 

Interact members in my district are raising $120,000 this year to aid Syrian refugees overseas and refugee resettlement in the San Francisco Bay Area. We are also raising awareness, planning service projects, and working to break the stigma associated with refugees.

Why did we chose this project? Continue reading

A member of Rotaract, and Rotary too

Rotaract Club of John Tyler Community College

Alexandria Ritchie (seated under banner), with the Rotaract Club of John Tyler Community College.

By Alexandria Ritchie, a member of the Rotaract Club of Virginia Commonwealth University and the Rotary Club of James River, Richmond, Virginia, USA

Recently, two Rotary friends shared with me the decision taken by the Council on Legislation to allow Rotaractors to also join Rotary. (The Council is where Rotary members gather every three years to discuss changes to the policies governing our organization.)

So I thought I’d give it a try. I am 21, and now also a member of the Rotary Club of James River. Let me tell you a little bit about my experience in Rotary and its young leaders programs from the perspective of a brand new young Rotarian. Continue reading

A South African’s Youth Exchange to Denmark

Ronan Morgan and South African flag

Rotary Youth Exchange student Ronan Morgan holds up the South African flag.

By Ronan Morgan

I had just arrived in Denmark after a 13-hour flight from South Africa, tired, but not exhausted. I was excited and ready to face a year of surprises and challenges as a Rotary Youth Exchange student from District 9400. It was not until I moved into my new home where I would spend the first five months of my exchange that it fully hit me – I was not in Johannesburg anymore, or anywhere familiar. Continue reading

3 secrets of Rotaract

Fernanda Moraes entertain child

Rotaractor Fernanda Luz Moraes entertains a child during a club outing. Happiness, she says, is an essential part of Rotaract.

By Fernanda Luz Moraes, president of the Rotaract Club of Cachoeirinha, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil

When I began participating in Rotaract in 2012, I viewed it as a way to spend my weekends doing something good in my community. But then I realized it is so much more than that.

I have met many other members of Rotaract who have a hard time explaining the passion that comes over them for doing volunteer work. The best way I can put it is this: We think globally, then act locally.

I want to change the world, and in order to make it happen, I know I need to develop my Continue reading

My Rotary Youth Exchange year in Canada

2014-15 Rotary Youth Exchange students.

2014-15 Rotary Youth Exchange students.

By Gabriela Vessani

I spent a year in Canada as a Rotary Youth Exchange student, and I can’t believe how fast the year went by. On my flight back to Brazil a few months ago, I reflected on the experience, and had so many thoughts.

I remembered arriving with anxiety, and yes, even a little fear. The experience is never entirely what you expect and you can never totally prepare for it. I think that few students go in with a full understanding of how intense and Continue reading

How a summer day changed everything

Shirey speaking to her club

Andrea Shirey speaks to her Rotary Club about hosting an exchange student.

By Andrea Shirey

On a summer day at my weekly Rotary Club meeting, a simple yes changed everything. A series of events and conversations over several weeks had led a fellow Rotarian to ask me if our family would host an exchange student. Somehow, the word yes fell from my lips as my brain lagged behind just long enough to realize I was committed. Soon, the questions formed:

What if the student is weird? What if my kids don’t get along with her? What if she won’t eat anything I cook and she dislikes America because of me? The doubts were endless, the fears considerable.   Continue reading

Why create a video for the Interact Video Awards?

By Kyle J. Gomes, member of the Interact Club of Hugh Boyd Secondary

Every year, my Interact club — located in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada — looks forward to creating a video for Rotary’s Interact Video Awards. Last year, our video (above) was selected as the Best Video, earning our club $500 to use toward our service projects. One project very close to our hearts is Operation Christmas Child, and we were able to ship even more gifts and necessities to children in need this year.

Making these videos has been an amazing motivator for our whole club. The best part in making a video is being able to see the real and tangible differences that we make with the projects we support. The other Interactors and I all agree that the experience gave us a perspective on our projects, and showed that although we may be only high school students, we are making a difference. Continue reading