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Rotary’s international youth exchange program


During Centralia Rotary Club’s January 10 meeting, Rotary District 6510 Rotary Youth Exchange Chairman Libby Quinlan presented a program on the Rotary International Youth Exchange Program for high school students ages 15 to 18½ prior to departing for the program in August. Rotary is committed to promoting international understanding, good will and peace. The Rotary Youth Exchange Program promotes peace through cultural understanding and development of youth leadership. Students accepted for the Youth Exchange Program, both inbound to the United States and outbound to other countries, must complete a full application with student/family information and medical data with sponsorship by a Rotary Club. There is a rigorous orientation and training program for inbound and outbound students and parents prior to the student being sent to a foreign country in August. When they arrive at their destination country in August, they will be placed with a host family, enrolled in a local high school and remain in that local school for the entirety of the school year.

Rotary clubs can sponsor incoming exchange students from foreign countries. The local Rotary Club must identify two to three host families in the same school district for each student. There are two trained officials appointed by the Rotary Club to oversee the welfare of the students. A Youth Exchange Officer is responsible for the administration of the program with the student, arranging for schooling and ensuring all the students’ needs are met on a regular basis. A Youth Exchange Counselor is responsible for advocating for the student for any personal problems that might arise. The students are rotated to two to three different families during their stay in a school district. This is to ensure the students experience a variety of the area’s culture while in the program.

This has been a popular program within District 6510, which covers Southern Illinois largely south of I-70. During the past 6 years, 16 Rotary clubs have hosted 48 inbound foreign students from 25 countries and 18 clubs have sponsored 38 southern Illinois outbound students to 21 different countries. Just this past year, 7 Rotary clubs in District 6510 are each hosting a foreign student from either Brazil, Denmark, South Korea or Thailand and 8 clubs are sponsoring a student to either Chile, Taiwan or Sweden.

More information on this program can be obtained from a local Rotary club.

Visiting Rotarians were David Gornstein and Libby Quinlan, both of the O’Fallon Sunrise Rotary Club.

Mark Myers provided an update on the February 17, 2024 ComedySportz Improv program fundraiser. The event will be held at the Elks Club. The ticket cost will be $20.00. Ticket sales and promotion will start on January 17 and tickets are available from any Rotarian.

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