2012-08-17 / Community

Rotary Exchange Students Say Goodbye

By Debbie Fleury

Carolina Campos (left) and Paris Hanson. Carolina Campos (left) and Paris Hanson. Studying abroad allows young students the opportunity to experience international diplomacy and self reliance. Assimilating into another cultural climate that differs in academics, foreign affairs, and even diet; offers a hands-on experience about broadening one’s perspective of the world. Students can expect to return from their experience as more enlightened individuals.

The Rotary Youth Exchange Program is committed to giving students an opportunity to study abroad, using an academic system designed to benefit social interactions and Rotary’s goal of working towards peace and understanding in the world. As members of the program, Paris Hanson and Carolina Campos have articulated their travels from their student report cards to their wardrobe. The tiny flags and patches pinned to their blazers symbolize the connections they’ve made with other exchange students sponsored by Rotary clubs throughout the globe.

Paris Hanson, a local Rockaway exchange student, spent an academic year with three different host families in Bad Oldesloe, Germany. She had an interest in learning German and she was attracted to the level of maturity German teens and young adults exhibited in their everyday lives. For the most part, “Germans are taught to be responsible at a very young age,” she said. Even surrounded by a culture that traditionally accepts minors consuming alcoholic beverages such as wine and beer, the mental capacity of drinking – responsibly – is enforced. “In Germany, a driver’s license is really hard to obtain,” Hanson laughs. And it’s just not worth losing, over a drink.

Expanding one’s foreign language skills is also highly valued. Carolina Campos is a Brazilian exchange student who has spent her time with Rotary host families in Rockaway and attending Scholars’Academy. Her expectations of living in the United States were dependent on language. Improving her English – in the conversational sense, she admits, became a top priority during her academic year as a foreign exchange student. She expects to return home to São Paulo, Brasil, with a more driven attitude about expressing herself more naturally in both Portuguese and English.

Having a better insight on jump-starting their careers post-graduation, Campos and Hanson believe that the opportunities they’ve had from studying abroad, could not have been made possible without Rotary.

The program is always looking for new applicants and it is available to young people ages: 15 - 19 worldwide. Students interested in applying to the Rotary Youth Exchange Program may contact Rotarians in their local area and fill out an application provided by their local club. Phone listings and further information about term exchanges are available at: www.rotary.org.

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