At our District Council Meeting on 13 July 2016, we were given an inspirational talk by Ella, who had been on a one-year Youth Exchange visit to Brazil, an experience which had opened her mind.
Interviewed by our District Youth Exchange Officer, Di King, Ella had last visited the District Council in July 2015, when she was about to set off for her year-long trip. At that time she appeared with a blazer, and was given her first badge to wear on it. When she appeared this time, all the blazer was covered in badges, some from the Rotary Clubs she had visited during the year, and some from the fellow Youth Exchange students from other countries around the world that she had met in Brazil.
Ella described that it was difficult at the start, living in a foreign country, speaking Portuguese, and living in a strange family. She also confessed to being a little homesick. But with school and with her fellow Youth Exchange students that soon passed.
The best time in the year was the time she spent with her fellow Youth Exchange students. But it was her description of how she had changed in the year that moved the Rotarians the most. She described that she had learned who she was, and in the process had become more confident and more comfortable with herself, even when it came to addressing large audiences like us. She now has a second language in which she can communicate fluently, and that helped her gain new perspectives and made her more open-minded to change and new ideas.
She finished by saying the same words as Ban Ki Moon said to the Rotary International Convention in Seoul, “Thank you very much!”
It seems to be open season for students who are the children of European Rotarians to write around to clubs in London asking for accommodation and help with finding internships. One such came from France recently and addressed nearly every club. I received it several times from different sources and my reply to the girl follows as a guide to how you deal with the next one:
“One of the exchange programmes which we offer is the New Generations Exchange for 18-25 year olds, where students can choose either a vocational or humanitarian project. Apart from the placement the student can expect Rotary involvement as well. All Rotary Youth Exchange students are expected to be ambassadors for their country and for Rotary, so the exchange is not just a one-sided benefit to the student.
If you are interested in such an exchange the protocol is to apply through your local Rotary club, to the District Youth Exchange Officer.
From my point of view I can say that I am a volunteer with a very small team of volunteer assistants. Finding hosting and a suitable ‘internship’ placement is a long process. Anyone interested in doing the NGE needs to think well ahead to give time to set up a suitable programme. Making such a request in mid February for a date in May is unrealistic as this is our busiest time for dealing with our own outbound students on four different programmes. On the whole we are not able to cope with arranging inbound exchanges before these students go out in the summer.
Unfortunately if you only want help finding an internship and accommodation without becoming an exchange student you would need to find an agency to help you because Rotary is unable to do so.”
With kind regards, Di King, DIstrict Youth Exchange Officer
I have received a request for New Generations Exchanges from two students (22 year old brother and 23 year old sister) from Belgium for two months, February and March 2012. They are coming as part of their university course requirement to immerse themselves in another culture for two months. We have secured work experience in the Radisson group of hotels, although at this point I am not sure exactly which and where inLondon.
In exchange we have two London students ready to take up the opportunity to go to Belgium on the same programme but the family circumstances of neither of these students enables them to offer home hospitality. I am therefore looking for host families for each of the Belgian students separately and urgently. Hosting could be for the whole two months or just one month, so I am looking for two, three or four host families. The students will need accommodation and food. They will be out in the working week but would appreciate being taken around a bit. They will be hosted by Rotary cubs and will attend meetings. No one will need a CRB check!
Any one of us who has hosted youth exchange students will tell you that it is a very rewarding experience. Please respond to this request as soon as possible to Di King
We are currently receiving emails from exchange students who are reaching the end of their year in a European district requesting that we enable them to visit London for a short time. There is some sort of rumour around Europewhich suggests to them that if they can get one of our Rotary clubs to invite them here – or just give them a contact name and a contact number – this satisfies their ‘minders’ and they are allowed to come here. This is completely untrue. Students and their parents know that travelling outside their district, let alone the country, is strictly against the rules and they sign at the outset to keep the rule. Permission to do so is granted only for a very good reason and can only be arranged between DYEOs of the districts concerned. Wherever the students travel to there must be the same high standard of care and screening that was required of their host district. This is very clear under the rules of Certification and to abuse them could cause RI to remove our Certificate to practice youth exchange. Quite apart from this, it is hard enough finding hosting for our own programmes without stray students arbitrarily ‘dropping in’ expecting to be hosted. Requests to District are passed to me. I give the students short shrift, and copy in my counterpart in the country concerned so that they know what is happening. If a student should approach your club website please forward the email to me and I will handle it in the same way. Do not be soft hearted about this – it could put our own YE programme in jeopardy.
Thank you. Di King, District Youth Exchange Specialist.
I am pleased to inform you that District 1130 has been awarded the Youth Exchange Award as the best performing district in RIBI in Youth Exchange. The award which consists of a certificate will be presented during the 3rd plenary session of the conference, directly after the break. I would ask you to be in place at the front of the hall a few minutes before the end of the break, and if you identify yourself to the Sergeants at Arms they will show you where to go. Congratulations on this award
PDG Keith Paver, RIBI Conference Chairman, Dublin 2011