SD8's Maya Provencal (left) recently returned from a trip to Switzerland as part of the Rotary Exchange Program.

SD8's Maya Provencal (left) recently returned from a trip to Switzerland as part of the Rotary Exchange Program.

Rotary exchange: ‘Meet kids from all over the world’

if you or your child are interested in learning more there will be an information night held at L.V. Rogers at 7 p.m. Thursday.

Students from Nelson have travelled to far-off countries such as Brazil, Italy and the Netherlands as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange in recent years, and if you or your child are interested in learning more there will be an information night held at L.V. Rogers at 7 p.m. Thursday.

“Rotary has come up with an incredible way to recruit new members called New Generations, where we’ve combined Interact, which is for high school kids, with the next level Rotaract, for college and university students,” said Rotary’s Wendy Lacroix. “And then there’s membership in the regular clubs, and our youth leadership program.”

Which means there are plenty of opportunities for Kootenay residents of all ages to engage with Rotary, which Lacroix describes as an “incredible network.”

The overseas trips are both an educational opportunity and a cultural one, said Lacroix. “The change of food is one thing, the dress is different, it really challenges them and shows them there’s a whole other world out there.”

Recently SD8’s Maya Provencal (pictured at right) and Max Eberle traveled to Switzerland and the Netherlands respectively, and both returned changed.

“They come home and give talks at the Rotary meetings,” Lacroix said. “They were so excited because they’ve learned something new. They’ve visited museums, seen the master artists in Holland, experienced things they’ve couldn’t have imagined. In most cases their expectations are exceeded.”

And the cross-country relationships created are often long-lasting.

“Max brought home the student he was hosted by, and he got to see what Canada was all about. They went hiking up Kokanee Glacier to the Idaho Lookout, and he couldn’t believe it.”

There are both short-term and long-term exchanges available. Any student between 15 and 18 can apply.

“You can meet kids from all over the world,” Lacroix said.