Being a world traveler while still in school is a fun thing to participate in for the student and even for the families which host the students.
Locally, the Rotary Club has a Youth Exchange Program where students from all over come to Duncan and local students can go abroad for a school year. The club just said goodbye to Marina Rodrigues who was here from Brazil, and soon will be welcoming home Hannah Farris who went to France.
Brie Truett, local coordinator for Rotary, was also one of the host moms last year.
“We had done it last year with Marina (Rodrigues) and had a great experience,” she said. “The student comes here for the school year and spends three months with each host family. So we have three different host families which really works out great for the student and the host family because it’s not so much pressure on one family to support the student all year.”
Truett said the host families should treat the students like one of their own; meals, chores, homework and more all while making exchanges in culture and both sides learning. There is already a student in line to come to Duncan for next school year. For privacy reasons only basic information may be released but Truett said the student is male and from Chile.
“They want to avoid their native language and this student has a level five of English speaking which is the highest level that they can have so his English is really good,” she said. Safety is a major concern for students coming and leaving.
“The thing with the Rotary program is that we do take into consideration all kinds of different things to make sure the students are safe,” she said.
Truett said Rodrigues had been to two other countries with two different programs and had an unpleasant experience during one of her visits and said the Rotary program was the best one she had participated in.
“The application is kind of lengthy — I can get them started so if it’s a family interested in hosting or a student wanting to do the exchange,” she said, “They can look into doing it with our program since it is really a great program and one of the safest ones as far as I am concerned.”
Truett said there were costs to be an exchange student and she could help interested students find out the cost but Rotary did have some assistance available for students wanting to go abroad.
“The goal is for diplomacy — for other countries to gain and understand our culture and vice-versa,” she said. “This is a great opportunity for the whole family to learn about another culture and to share our culture with someone else.” The other host families said they would be hosts again and Truett understands exactly why.
“I think the most important thing that people need to know is that this is an opportunity to change your life basically,” she said. “Meeting Martina has changed my life, now I want to go to Brazil, my kids want to go to Brazil, my kids want to do the exchange program now — it’s an opportunity to open up your own horizon and change your life.”
For information about being a host family or being an exchange student email Truett at firstname.lastname@example.org.