Rotary looking for students to study abroad

The Batavia Rotary Club is now accepting applications for students between the ages of 15 and 18 to join the more than 8,000 young people from around the world every year to participate in the Youth Foreign Exchange Program.

“The Youth Rotary Exchange is a well-established program that has been around since 1927,” said Rotary Youth Exchange Outbound Chair and Vice-President Mac Hickman. “We are looking for high school students that are interested in going for an academic year exchange to Europe, Asia, or South America.”

The Rotary Club is currently recruiting students for what is known as a ‘long-term’ academic foreign exchange program; students applying now will depart for the host country in August 2007 and return Sept. 2008.

“It is a year that provides a lifetime of understanding,” said Hickman. “We are looking for flexible candidates that are above average academically, possess qualities such as leadership and good character, live in the rotary district (Clermont, Brown, and Adams counties), and are interested in living and immersing themselves in another culture.”

Interested and qualified students rank their top 10 country choices, but are not guaranteed their first or even second choice because of the limited number of openings in the more than forty participating countries (Australia and other English-speaking countries are the most requested).

Students in the past who did not receive their first choices returned to say that they would not have changed a thing in retrospect, Hickman said.

“The exchange program is a cultural exchange, not an academic program,” Hickman points out. “Even though the student must attend the academic high school year in his/her host country – and most local high schools reward academic credits – the program is designed to be a way to assimilate into another culture, learn a different language, and make new friends.”

Hickman said that the youth exchange program is notable and worthwhile because it encourages, promotes, and nurtures international peace and understanding.

“The whole experience lets students blossom into a whole new person. We are looking for those students who want this experience of a lifetime. Of course, they need to be able to accept the rules and the discipline of the program, but, most importantly, candidates need to have a strong desire to learn about other countries, languages, and cultures and to recognize and appreciate the similarities and differences between the two.”

The students that the Rotary Club has sponsored in the past, including the ones abroad right now, have described the experience as this ‘time of their lives.’

“It truly is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Hickman said. “The feedback that we receive from the participants has been wonderful. The participants have no regrets and say that it was one of the most satisfying experiences that they have ever had.”

The Batavia Rotary Club is also looking for families in the Batavia High School district to host a foreign student for a three month exchange program.

Those students interested in participating may visit and complete a preliminary application, or for more information, applications, and mailing instructions, call Mac Hickman at (513) 831-0707.