|Two Bahamian students head abroad on Rotary Youth Exchange|
|Thursday, 02 August 2012 10:22|
Two Bahamian students are heading abroad this month as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange programme. For more than 75 years, the cultural exchange programme has been providing students with the opportunity to experience new customs and societies first hand, learning a new language and taking a little bit of their own country to the rest of the world.
Today, over 8,000 students from 80 countries participate in the programme, which is administered at the regional level by Rotary districts and at the local level by Rotary clubs. Participants stay with local families, mostly Rotarians, and are supported by the global network of Rotary volunteers. These steps help keep costs low for those taking part in the programme.
Grand Bahama Rotary clubs have been a part of the youth exchange system for more than 25 years, and dozens of Bahamian students have traveled to and lived in countries such as Finland, Denmark, Brazil, Germany, Thailand and France.
Richard Bates has supported the Rotary Youth Exchange efforts for many of his 26 years as a Rotarian in Grand Bahama. He has helped coordinate inbound and outbound students, assisting with immigration, schooling and host families as he works with the local clubs and shares his experience.
Mr Bates expressed the importance of the exchange experience for Bahamian students going abroad, saying, “They make lifelong friends and benefit tremendously from the fact that they learn a second language.”That experience, Mr Bates said, gives them insight and first-hand knowledge of another culture, which not only expands their future horizons, but it could directly benefit the Bahamas in the hospitality industry.
One of the Bahamian students traveling abroad this year from Grand Bahama is Rachael Russell, who is heading to Denmark this week for at least 10 months. Although Rachael graduated high school in June of this year, while in Denmark, she will attend a local high school and take classes that will be taught in Danish.
Rachael says that learning another language is one of the challenges she faces, but is excited about being exposed to such a different way of life. “Of course, having to learn Danish – which is one of the most difficult languages to learn – is a bit daunting,” Rachael said, “but getting adjusted to the colder weather and all of the different customs will take a while.”
To prepare for her student exchange, Rachael traveled to Florida for two orientation sessions, along with the other Grand Bahamian exchange student, Nathalie Turnquest, who will be heading to Ecuador this month. Rachael says that those orientation sessions helped tremendously in knowing what to expect.
“We learned about how important it is to embrace the differences of other people and ways of life,” Rachael said. “I’m actually excited about that and learning about the history and people of Denmark, their food and music, and even how school works over there.”
Rachael departs Grand Bahama on Friday and will be in Denmark until the summer of 2013.
Photo: Rachael Russell is one of two Grand Bahamians heading abroad this month as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange programme. Rachael will be going to Denmark for 10 months and Nathalie Turnquest will be going to Ecuador.
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