Youth Exchange Programme

One of the earliest Rotary activities that the Rotary Club of Brisbane Mid-City considered and adopted was the Youth Exchange Program. The value of this program in the larger field of world understanding is inestimable.

Clubs cannot send a student overseas unless it hosts a student in the same period. Families in the foundation years of our club were anxious to be included, and the first incoming student was Cynthia (Cindy) Sheetz, from Punxatawney, Penn., USA, who arrived in August 1978, six months after the club's charter.

Three or preferably four families are needed for hosting, and must be able to provide a single room for the student, with the usual bedding accommodation, and room to study (i.e. a desk and chair). These days access to a computer is considered almost essential, but in the earlier years computers were found only in the schools!

Cindy's hosts were Bruce and Denise Robinson, Mick and Enid Moses, Murray and Dorothy Prior, and Col and Helen Morwood. Only two of these families are still with the club. Each student must have a Counsellor, preferably not one of the hosts; and George Berkeley, then Director-General of Education for Queensland, was an excellent choice for that position!

Because of some doubts about the program and hosting matters, there was a break until in 1980-81 the club shared a student (spending six months with each club), Glenn Wallace, of Blairstown, NJ, USA, with the Rotary Club of Albion. This experience confirmed the value of the program for the club, but there was not a further student until 1984-85, when with George Berkeley as Club President, we hosted Sven Ruhland, from Kufstein, Austria. Then followed Scott Pringle, from Gweru, Zimbabwe; Magnus Khysing, from Avesta, Sweden; Trine Jensen, of Aarup, Denmark; Ana Koho, of Seinajoki, Finland; Niki Wolfram, from Gmunden, Austria; Brooke Mansour, from Michigan, USA; Andrea Silver, of Regina, Canada; Melanie Bendixen, of Roodenport, near Johannesburg, Republic of South Africa; Aki Tsuruoka, from Kochi, Shikoku, Japan; and Kyla Brown, from Newport, Washington State, USA, who was with the club from July 1999 to July 2000.

The demographics of our club over the next few years militated against taking on Youth Exchange, but in 2004 this has altered yet again, and perhaps the time has come for another YEP student to join the Rotarians of Brisbane Mid-City.

The students from different countries arrive at different times of the year, which means that there is often a gap between one student's arrival and the next. European students usually arrive July-August, South Africans in January-February, and Japanese and Asian students in April-May.

The Youth Exchange Committee, dealing with a large number of incoming and outgoing students, makes the basic decision on which overseas student goes to which club, according to various criteria, hoping to ensure that the "pairing" of student and club is harmonious. This does not mean necessarily that it will be a smooth passage for either the student or the club (one of the reasons why a separate counsellor is appointed for each student). If the selection process is sound, then there will be plenty of give and take on both sides, and the total experience will be one enjoyed, treasured and remembered for many a year with smiles, affection, and many, many laughs!

Article courtesy of... Helen Morwood, a three-times host "Mum".

    • Meeting Times

      On the 1st and 3rd Friday of each month (except statutory holidays) in the function rooms on Level 4 of The Brisbane Club Tower, 241 Adelaide Street, Brisbane. The best entrance is from Post Office Square (the level above Adelaide Street) through the double glass doors and then right through another set of swing doors to the Brisbane Club lift.

      Arrival is from 12.15 pm with lunch at 12.45 pm. Meetings conclude at 2.00 pm sharp. Visiting Rotarians are extremely welcome.

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