This year, a total of eight students are participating in District 7710’s long-term Outbound and Inbound Youth Exchanges, representing three continents and six different countries.
This year’s three “outbounds” have all landed safely in Europe and South America: Ryan Raulynaitis, sponsored by Fuquay Varina Downtown, in Mellau, Austria; Grace McCrorie, sponsored by West Raleigh, in Brazil; and Allison Becker, sponsored by North Raleigh, in Argentina. While in their respective countries, they will have broad exposure to a variety of cultural experiences.
The five “inbounds” all arrived during the week of Aug. 21 and were enthusiastically greeted at RDU by various club members, host families, and Youth Exchange committee members. Those students, their home countries, and area club sponsors include: Sophia Dragao (Brazil), North Raleigh; Robin Schultz (France), Oxford; Agustin Brignolo (Argentina), Fuquay Varina Downtown; Oceane Rousseaux (Belgium), Apex Sunrise; and Mirei Isozaki (Japan), Clayton.
Whether inbound or outbound, the Youth Exchangers will all be changed by this year abroad. Travel experts value the long-term Rotary exchange as a $25,000 scholarship, made possible by the efforts of volunteer Rotarians worldwide. With room and board supplied by host families, monthly stipends provided by host clubs, and a local network of supportive Rotarians, District 7710’s youth ambassadors encounter life-changing experiences and build life-long relationships.
Outbound student Grace McCrorie is doing a “gap year”—the year in between high school graduation and college– and writes this in her blog, “Tudo Bom: It’s All Good” about Brazil:
“Every time I say a word in Portuguese that isn’t “oi”, “tudo bom”, or “sim”, everyone cheers, gives me a high five and a fist bump. Everyone here is super kind to the new foreign girl who speaks little to no Portuguese, and I am forever grateful for that.”
Inbound Brazilian student Sophia Dragao, hosted by North Raleigh Rotary, gave these observations about her first week in the United States:
“I am amazed with all I see here: the houses are different, the way people dress is different, the food, the city, the school and everything imaginable. The stereotype that Americans are reserved was broken when I arrived at the airport and received all the affection that anyone could offer to me.”
Breaking stereotypes. Getting to know each other. Accepting differences: these are the goals for these Rotary youth ambassadors. May they live their dreams this year!
District 7710 Rotary Youth Exchange orientation took place at the home of Terry & Brenda Winebrenner (Apex Sunrise Rotarians). Helen Holt, Chair of the Youth Exchange Committee for District 7710 and member of the Wake Forest Rotary Club, planned a great afternoon which included District 7690 and 7730. YE committee member, Johnny Whitfield, provided orientation for the inbound students and everyone enjoyed hot dogs, hamburgers and brats afterwards. We are looking forward to an eventful year with students from Japan, Brazil, France, Germany, Belgium and Argentina.