We are family: Rotary Youth Exchange
Regina Alesi loves to travel. So when a classmate told her about her experience with Rotary Youth Exchange, the teenager knew she wanted to take a journey of her own. Alesi left her Argentine hometown of San Nicolás de los Arroyos in January through the program to explore Brazil, dive into its culture, and grow as a leader. “This experience has made me more independent and flexible to adapt to new things and different scenarios,” she says.
Rotary Youth Exchange has been promoting international understanding for nearly 50 years, and today Rotary clubs host exchanges in more than 100 countries. The program offers teenagers ages 15-19 an opportunity to make new friends and learn new ways of living, to open themselves to different ideas and experiences, and to adapt and gain fresh perspectives.
The exchanges offer the same to the host families. “Living with our exchange student gave my family the opportunity to get to know a new culture, traditions, and practices,” says Ivone Pinheiro de Souza Silva, a host mom. “The doors of my house will always be open for exchange students.”
Alesi is one of thousands of students who participated in Rotary Youth Exchange last year. On the following pages, you’ll also meet Ava Minocherhomji and George French, two other exchange students, and learn more about their exciting year in Brazil. — JP SWENSON
This experience has made me more independent and flexible to adapt to new things and different scenarios.
The thing that surprised me most was how different my host families were from each other, yet how welcoming and loving they all were.
I realized I love to travel and that being on my own can be a freeing way to experience new things.
This story originally appeared in the October 2023 issue of Rotary magazine.