FCJ College student Grace Morrison is headed to Bordeaux next year as part of Benalla Rotary Club’s student exchange program.
Last week Grace met Member for Euroa Steph Ryan, who presented her with an Australian flag to take to France.
Grace said she got involved in the program through her grandparents who are members of Rotary and have been involved in organising past exchanges.
‘‘My grandparents are part of Rotary and I learnt about it through them. When it was offered to me I thought ‘I’ll do it’,’’ Grace said.
‘‘It involves being an ambassador for our town and just learning and being a student over there, so it’s a student exchange, not a holiday.
‘‘I will be in France for the whole year. I’ve been studying French. I’ve done a little bit at school and at home with my grandma, who speaks French.
‘‘I’ve never been to France before. I’m excited. I’m looking forward to learning more about France and becoming part of a new community and learning all about their history.’’
Ms Ryan said Rotary had done an amazing job over the years in sending our young people to different countries.
‘‘I think it builds a relationship between key countries, countries that are important to Australia,’’ she said.
‘‘People like Grace will be the leaders of our community in years to come, so it’s important that they have the opportunity to broaden their knowledge.
‘‘Rotary’s done a great job of that. We’ve had a number of students from the local community who have had the opportunity to do year-long exchanges in year 9 and year 10 and we’ve also been able to host students as well. So I think its a long-term strategic relationship but it also, of course, has great benefits for the students.’’
Rotary chairman Bruce McIntyre said the program was launched in this Rotary district in 1958 and had since been adopted internationally.
‘‘Our first student exchange was in the early ’60s and we’ve probably had 45 kids from the Benalla area go out over that period of time,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a cultural and ambassadorial exchange. All the feedback we get is exceedingly positive as we make sure the kids are well prepared.’’
Grace is looking forward to representing Benalla in France.
‘‘The message I hope to leave is that it’s a great, close-knit community where everyone helps each other out,’’ she said.