By:  Kathi Perkins, Chair, Youth Exchange Committee, RC of Westbrook-Gorham
District 7780 had a successful 2022-2023 exchange year!  Six students from five clubs took advantage of the short-term summer program in the summer of 2022.  One long-term student from Kittery spent the school year in Thailand. Two long-term students, one from Kittery and another from Gorham, spent the school year respectively in Romania and in Ukraine.
There was only one summer student in 2023, with an exchange between Italy and South Portland-Cape Elizabeth.  Our outbound student returns August 29, just in time to start school!  Our one long-term student from Brazil arrived in mid-August to NorthYarmouth, registered for her classes at Greely High School in Cumberland, and started school the last week of August.  Many thanks to the Yarmouth Club and David Wilson for sponsoring and welcoming her.
Rotary offers both long- and short-term programs for high school students, both sponsored by a local Rotary Club.  The short-term is a true exchange as the US student is matched with a student from one of his/her/their chosen countries.  Each family hosts for 2-4 weeks, but the students spend 4-8 weeks together, both hosting and traveling, with little club commitment. A school year student stays with three different host families, becomes a part of the school, club, and community and has a life-changing experience.
One of our returning students from the summer of 2022 has chosen to work on recruiting more summer students as her project to earn her Gold Award, the highest award in Girl Scouts.  She will join the District Youth Exchange Committee, which will soon be meeting to come up with strategies and ideas about how to let more students and clubs know about Youth Exchange. If you and/or your club is interested in assisting us, or just want more information, please contact the chair, Kathi Perkins, and/or 207-253-1778.
Pictured from left to right: Yarmouth Rotarian Maria Edwards, host mom Patty Langkopf, student from Brazil Natalia (Naty) Maciel de Morais, host dad Stephen Leverett, and Yarmouth Youth Exchange Officer David Wilson.