The Rotary Youth Exchange program sends 7,600 students somewhere in the world for the experience of a lifetime to live and attend school in another country. It is a fantastic opportunity for young people to learn another language, experience the culture and take away a lifetime of memories.
In 2011-2012 the Rotary Club of Hall participated in the program when we hosted Jessica Yen from Brazil. In her time here, Jess lived for three months with four Hall Rotary families and was supported by Rotarian Bernie Rogers, as her appointed counselor.
She attended Dixon and Narrabundah Colleges and participated in many social and sporting events. She played soccer for Canberra Olympic and was supported by a group of dedicated club members who went to watch her games.
Club members regularly took her on outings, not just Canberra but much of Eastern Australia. Jess climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, patted kangaroos, emus, wombats and even a shark.
She even completed the famous Sydney City2Surf fun run with Rotarian Chris Edwards and his family, to help raise money for the Steve Waugh Foundation and their work assisting children with rare diseases.
Jess participated in club meetings and her mastery of the English language improved greatly during her stay. Not only did she learn a lot about Australia, we also learnt a lot about Brazil and her culture.
Jessica’s year in Australia was filled with extraordinary experiences that few of us get to have.
The club had a few Skype sessions with Jessica’s parents during one of the regular club meetings and the host families got to know her parents fairly well. A couple of the club members are planning trips to Brazil in coming years to catch up with Jess and meet her family in person.
“One year ago I wasn’t sure if an exchange was a good idea, but now, I’m sure that I had the best year and the best experience of my life!
I learned a lot with everybody there and specially about Australia. I did things and met people that I will never forget, I lived in a farm, I saw snow for the first time, I climbed the Sydney Harbour Bridge, went to a Rodeo, I saw an platypus and kangaroos, went to Sydney for New Year watch the fireworks, went to the desert and the beautiful beaches on my Safari, and so many other things!
To find out more about Rotary Youth, visit rotaryexchange.org.au