Makili Matty (Kittery) in Italy with Dom and family

By:  Kathi Perkins, Chair, District Youth Exchange, RC of Westbrook-Gorham

The District is at the midpoint of our long-term youth exchange program.  Erika from Romania in Kittery and Dasha from Ukraine in Gorham are both settled into their second families.  They have successfully completed their first semester and have begun the second, continuing with some classes and beginning new semester-long ones.  Both are involved with their schools and have visited their host clubs (Kittery and Westbrook-Gorham respectively) several times.

While hosting a long-term student is a major commitment for a club, please consider the Short-Term program as an uncomplicated way to get involved in Youth Exchange.  The Short-Term program is a true exchange!  Our American students are matched with a student of similar age in one of their country choices.  One student travels to the other for 3-4 weeks, then both return to the first country for another 3-4 weeks.  The students get 6-8 weeks together, but each club and each family has only 3-4 weeks to host.  The time and length of travel are totally up to the families involved.

The families cover the cost of the application fee and airfare to and from the other country.  There is usually no visa requirement for such a short time.  There is no cost to the host club, except for inviting the students and family to a club meeting or two, as well as any social or community service event occurring during the exchange.  You usually have at least two club programs from the exchange: one while the international student is in the US and one after the American student has completed the exchange.

If you would like more information, please go to the Eastern States Student Exchange (ESSEX) website for information on hosting, student applications, and/or club involvement.  You can also contact District Youth Exchange Chair, Kathi Perkins via email or by phone at 207-253-1778.  We will be sending information to schools very shortly.