Thursday October 13, 2016
Providing opportunities for youth to thrive and become global citizens is a hallmark of the Rotary Club of South Burlington (RCSB). Each year a large portion of the club’s effort is concentrated on organizing programs and supporting youth initiatives. The club sponsorship and support of the Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) program, in partnership with South Burlington High School (SBHS), is a prime example of this effort.
The student exchange program offers the opportunity for high school students to advance their education, experience new cultures, learn another language and contribute to world understanding. During the 2015-16 academic year, SBHS graduate Anna Wulfson traveled to Sardinia, Italy on a yearlong exchange, while Florence Libon from Liege, Belgium joined the SBHS senior year class. In fact, Anna Wulfson was inspired to apply for the program after her elder sister Sam Wulfson participated with RYE during the 2013-14 academic year.
Over the summer, both Libon (who left in July) and Wulfson (who returned in July) came to thank the club and to share how their experiences with RYE have changed them, forever.
Libon described many of her adventures which included New York City in a blizzard, carving pumpkins for Nightmare VT, a live radio interview, learning field hockey and rugby, as well as visiting Montreal and Disney World. She noted ,“My exchange was an unforgettable experience that pushed me to discover a new culture, a new language, meeting people from all over the world, taking part of a community, and the most important, to discover myself and what I was capable of.”
Anna Wulfson’s presentation was equally inspiring as she described her school and home life and travels throughout Italy and Europe. She approached this year with a “do it all” mindset that really contributed to the success of her exchange. It influenced her ultimate choice for college and future studies which she began this fall. She, like all of the exchange students, has returned home with an expanded view of the world that she will never lose.
When participating in the exchange, students receive supervision and support of the local host Rotary Club and the generosity of volunteer host families with whom they live. Volunteer “host families” not only provide a welcoming and safe home, but introduce the exchange students to the place and people in which they have come to live. Three South Burlington families welcomed Libon into their homes here in South Burlington while Wulfson remained with one family for the entire year. Both young women now have lifelong extended families with their host siblings and parents.
Previous SBHS students who have benefitted from Rotary Youth Exchange are Alex Pasanen (short term, France, 2014), Sam Wulfson (full year, Argentina 2013-14), Sam Desautels (full year, Chile 2014-15), Emma Briody (full year, Chile 2012-13).
SBRC is now seeking applicants for either the long term (full year) or short-term exchange programs for the 2017-18 academic year. Applications are due in mid-November. Students and families interested in learning more about the exchange programs may contact the Youth Exchange coordinator Molly Bucci at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Founded in 1985, the South Burlington Rotary Club is one of more than 34,000 Rotary clubs around the world. Rotary members are business, professional and non-profit leaders who volunteer their expertise, compassion, time and resources to get involved in their communities at home and abroad.
SOURCE: Penne Tompkins, South Burlington Rotary Club President 2016-17