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Rotary Happenings: Youth Exchange Student host families highlighted at weekly meeting

By Staff | Mar 18, 2015

How would you like to receive a letter like this?

Congratulations! You are about to become a new parent, probably not for the first time, but this time your new child will already be a teenager upon arrival, may not speak your native language fluently, and will certainly have cultural traits that are different from yours.

That is a note received by our Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) Student host families from our RYE District Chairman, Frank Avey, regarding incoming District Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) students from Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Lithuania, Brazil, and Taiwan.

The goal of the Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) program is to provide a better understanding for high school students of other cultures and to participate in academic studies and even sport programs that enlarge the student’s life experience beyond what normally might present itself in their own country.

The hope of Rotary is to offer an understanding of other cultures providing a spring-board for accepting the differences between cultures and recognizing the similarities that provide an opportunity for many nations to work together in the future on global concerns.

Rotarian, Holli Martin volunteered to become our Sanibel-Captiva Rotary Youth Exchange Club Coordinator.

Her job was to find host families for our club’s RYE student from Germany, Abigail Kinzel, who arrived last August and to coordinate with that family or families the enrollment at a local high school for her academic courses for the 2014/2015 school year.

Holli must, also, make sure that all necessary paper work regarding our student’s medical and insurance forms and all other required government forms for our youth exchange student is properly filled out and submitted to District.

Holli then becomes an advisor to both the host family and student to provide the best quality experience for the year.

For the first half of this current school year, Abby had been hosted by Rotarian John Bellino and his family in Fort Myers and is enrolled at South Fort Myers High School.

She has now moved to Sanibel and is now hosted by Sanibel-Captiva Rotary President, Bill Rahe and wife Stephanie; continuing her studies and after school activities at South Fort Myers High School.

Part of this program encourages our RYE students to attend Rotary meetings throughout the district and present a short program of their experiences as a RYE student here in the states and a somewhat brief biographical profile of their families and the area and country from which they come.

At our last meeting, we welcomed Abby to the podium to present her program. Abby, of course, has been at our club meetings before and also volunteered at our Rotary Arts & Crafts last month.

She is a delightful and poised young woman, who presents herself with confidence and has a slight sly sense of humor.

Abby wanted first to thank her host families and all of the Rotarians that have taken her on many adventures while here; from fishing to paddle boarding and Universal Studios.

As part of the exchange program all the students get together regularly to exchange their experiences and have downtime, just to have fun. A four-day trip to Disney World was probably one of the highlights of those activities. Abby is enjoying attending South Fort Myers High School and had just received a letter announcing her acceptance into the National Honor Society.

Academics are going well, although Abby did mention the algebra course work she is taking at South Fort Myers is basically a repeat of what she had taken two-years ago at home.

Abby was a member of the volley ball team and has just joined the tennis team; having her first match last week, which she wanted us to know she lost.

Abby comes from Usedom, Germany the sunniest island in the Baltic Sea. So, Abby feels right at home on Sanibel and enjoying the freedom here to ride her bike to the beach.

The Sanibel-Captiva Rotary meets at 7:00am, Friday mornings, at the Dune Golf & Tennis Club, Sanibel.

Guests are always welcomed.