NORWICH – The Rotary Club has been involved in the Youth Exchange Program for over 70 years, giving students all over the world the chance to broaden their horizons and experience life in another culture. The Norwich Rotary, chapter 7170 will soon begin soliciting students interested in traveling abroad for the 2008 school year.
“The Rotary operates in over 200 countries world-wide,” said YMCA Executive Director and Rotarian Jamey Mullen. “It’s one of the strongest youth exchange programs in the world.”
Recent Norwich graduate Chelsea Butcher has participated in the exchange program. In order to travel abroad, Chelsea had to complete her junior and senior year of high school in one year, but the experience, she says, was definitely worth it.
“I’ve traveled since I was little, and I’d always dreamed of going to another country and learning about other cultures,” Chelsea explained. “It was everything I thought it would be.”
Although Chelsea did not know a word of Spanish, she spent a year in Peru, attending school, trying new foods and enjoying the rich new culture in which she found herself.
“The education system was so different than ours,” Chelsea said, “but the first few days they welcomed me. I was surprised how much alike we were.” Chelsea said it helped that she had already completed high school, so she didn’t need to depend on the grades she received in the Peruvian school. “When I had assignments, I worked on trying to figure out the words. I didn’t get a lot of work done, but I learned a lot of language,” she said.