Youth Exchange or Life Exchange?

Kaavya S., News Editor

The Rotary Club provides high school students with the opportunity to participate in an exchange program for the summer or an entire school year. The program is a lengthy process of applications, forms, interviews, and learning. Students have a variety of countries to choose from, including France, Norway, Peru, Germany, and Italy. But like the Rotary Club says, “It doesn’t matter where you go, but it’s that you go.”

The exchange program allows students to immerse themselves in a new language and culture, while allowing them to explore a new degree of independence. When deciding whether to participate in the Rotary Club program, students are forced to face their fears: will they be able to learn the new language? How will they adjust to their new life? Can they survive without their family? “My main issue with the exchange program is that I’m not sure how I could cope without my family,” said junior Olivia McCaw. Students aren’t guaranteed their first country of choice either, another popular concern. “Germany wasn’t my first choice for the exchange program,” said senior Emma Stack. “But I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world, it’s indescribable really. The exchange program will go down as one of the best years of my life. It helped me step out of my comfort zone and it also helped me see there’s more to this world than Lake Mary.”

There are plenty of students ready for their own exchange experience. Junior Jada Reed said, “I am going to apply for the program this year because I think it would be incredible to explore the world and see what other cultures are like. Over the summer, I traveled to Europe, so I would love to travel there again and stay for a longer time.”  Not only is it a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but the program is a fraction of the price you’d pay to travel on your own, averaging at a total of $5,900.

Participants get an inside look at a new country through their host families- a priceless experience. If you’re eager to experience a new culture and willing to apply, then the Rotary Club’s Youth Exchange Program is for you.