BATH - There were smiles mixed with tears as Bath Rotary’s exchange student, Andrea Guzman Juarista of Mexico, bid farewell to her sponsors, host family and Haverling classmates after spending an entire year in Bath as part of the Rotary International Youth Exchange.
Andy, as she liked to be called, resided with the Jeff and Linda Robbins family during the school year. She quickly became acclimated to her host family and the Bath community, joining in many school activities such as the Haverling Interact Club, which is sponsored by the Bath Rotary Club, and sports teams.
She attended the Rotary District 7120 conference in Hershey, PA., meeting a number of other youth exchange students from around the world. She also took advantage of the opportunity to tour the United States at the conclusion of the school year, visiting many well-known national sites all over the country.
For over 75 years, students and host families have broadened their horizons through the Rotary International Youth Exchange with more than 100 countries and more than 8,000 students each year participating in the program. Over 1.2 million Rotarians in more than 32,000 clubs create the extensive network that provides support for the exchange program. Those selected for this program are above-average students who have also demonstrated outstanding participation and leadership in their own schools and communities.
A host family is a vital part of the cultural exchange, immersing the student in a variety of activities while in the host country. The host family plays a large role in offering the student a view of another country and gains the opportunity to learn about a new culture from the student, explained Bath Rotarian Dave Stewart, who has chaired the club’s Youth Exchange program for many years.
Since Rotary International is committed to creating and maintaining the safest possible environment for all participating in the exchange program, host families were screened, interviewed, and selected by members of the Bath Rotary Club. Stewart said the club usually looks for several families, two or three, who will commit to hosting an exchange student during the year in which the Bath club sponsors an exchange student, he explained, in that way each family plays host for a few months at a time. Bath Rotary Club historically sponsors an exchange student every other year, expecting its next foreign student during the 2017-18 academic year.
The Youth Exchange program is just one of many of the Rotary International programs and service opportunities which are designed to help Rotarians meet needs in their own communities and reach out to assist people in need worldwide.
The Bath Rotary Club, chartered in 1923, meets at noon every Thursday at the Dormann Library.