Rotary’s youth exchange programme still going strong

Johan Potgieter (left) and Devan Erasmus (right) in their South African Youth Exchange blazers when they left Rotary Club Boksburg Lake. They subsequently went to France and Germany respectively.

Rotary Youth Exchange is the opportunity of a lifetime for the more than 8000 students who participate each year.

The local Boksburg Rotary clubs invite students to make use of this opportunity, which promotes sharing one’s own culture and embracing a new one while fostering global understanding and learning a great deal about yourself and your home country in the process.

Rotary Youth Exchange (Yex) is a learning-abroad opportunity for young people to spend anywhere from a few weeks to a full year as an international student hosted by Rotary Clubs.

Ester Nast, member of the Rotary District 9400 YEX committee (under which the local Rotary clubs fall),said: “I am proud to be part of the D9400 YEX Committee. We had orientation recently for the long-term students currently representing nine different countries in our country – South Africa.

“Our Rotex students – students who spent a year abroad – gave them a lovely presentation and a lot of tips.”

Devan Erasmus of Rotary Club Boksburg Lake said the following about his experience: “I took part in the short-term exchange with Rotary in the north of France at the end of 2015. It was an unforgettable experience.”

I lived with such a close and kind family and couldn’t have asked for anything more. I loved being able to travel and explore new places like Paris, Bruges and Amsterdam with my host family.

“It may be hard to believe, but even going to school with the bus early in the morning was something to look forward to because I saw and met new people daily. Six weeks were not enough!”

Johan Potgieter of Rotary Club Boksburg Lake added the following: “Through Rotary I was privileged enough to spend six weeks on a life-changing exchange program. My majestic journey started on November 30, 2015 when I flew to the fairy-tale like village called Lusche in the North West of Germany about 200 km from Hamburg.

My stay was full of amazing experiences, such as skiing, indoor sky diving and a lovely white Christmas. “My family took great care of me and I never felt out of place. In such a short period of time Germany became home to me

“In only six weeks I had made a lot of new friends and had a new family. I thank Rotary International for this amazing opportunity.”

Rotary Boksburg and Boksburg Lake answers the following questions:

Is an exchange right for me? Exchanges are for school going learners, aged 15 to 18 years, who:

  • Have demonstrated leadership in their school and community.
  • Are flexible and are willing to try new things.
  • Are open to cultural differences.
  • Can serve as an ambassador for their own country.

How much does it cost?

Costs vary from country to country. Local Rotary Clubs generously host students and provide room and board with a host family and a small monthly stipend.

Participants are usually responsible for:

  • Round-trip airfare.
  • Insurance.
  • Travel documents (such as passports and visas).
  • Spending money, additional travel and tour fees.

How can I apply?

Contact your local Rotary Club to see if it participates and to learn more about the types of programs offered and the specific application process required. Because the selection and orientation process can be lengthy, Rotary suggests applying 6 to 12 months prior to leaving. A representative of one or more of the applicable Rotary Clubs’ youth officers will visit a candidate’s school to provide information and application forms.

q Can I host an exchange student?

Hosting an exchange student can be an incredibly rewarding experience for your family, providing an international experience without leaving home. Host families provide room and board and share their lives with exchange students. They involve them in family, community and cultural activities.

Interested in learning more about being a host family? Contact Rotary Club Boksburg Lake (Lynda Milligan 082 492 3141) or Rotary Club Boksburg (Dave Beattie 072 317 2188)

Riaan Engelbrecht

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