Each year the Rotary International Youth Exchange Program gives young people the opportunity to experience the cultures of other countries.
During the exchange, young people aged between 15 and 18 grow considerably in self-confidence, tolerance and self-reliance.
They also learn to accept greater responsibility in their everyday life.
The friendships they make will be life-long and important in achieving the aims of the exchange — the building of goodwill and understanding between countries.
Benalla Rotary Club has been involved with this program for many years. Both inbound and outbound students have been fine ambassadors for their respective countries.
During 2017, the club had two local students take part in the exchange program — Hannah McCallum and Will Berger.
They both made presentations at last week’s meeting covering their year-long exchanges to Germany and Italy respectively.
Hannah went to Germany and was hosted by Monschau-Nordeifel Rotary Club, which is near Dusseldorf.
She enjoyed all her host families, each of whom had a child who had been on a Rotary exchange or left for one while Hannah was staying with them.
While overseas she learned communication skills from talking to a range of people from different backgrounds.
She also became more mature and learned a range of new skills from budgeting to using public transport efficiently.
She made bonds and friendships with other exchange students from all over the world who she hopes to visit in the future.
The year broadened her horizons but also increased her appreciation of Australia.
Will was an exchange student in the city of Brescia, which is a city with a population of 200,000 in the north-east of Italy, about an hour from Milan.
He was very fortunate to have many trips to different places in Italy, often during school time.
During his year he visited Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands and Belgium.
If you are a 15 to 18-year-old and looking for a life-changing experience, then consider applying for a Rotary Youth Exchange.
●For more information, contact the Rotary Club of Benalla at [email protected]