A closer look at early returns
In the November edition of this newsletter, the "Ask a Youth Exchange Officer" section addressed how to prevent early returns. This month, we take a closer look at what steps districts should take when an early return occurs.
Each Rotary year, about 6 percent of student exchanges end early. Terminations can be disappointing, and districts should work together to do what is in each student's best interest. Returns related to illness, homesickness, or political circumstances are usually less complicated, while returns resulting from program rules violations or lack of participation can be more challenging to manage.
Host districts may remove any student who does not comply with the requirements of the program at their discretion. Some districts have a warning system for lesser rule violations. Fairness and students' well-being must be considered in all early return determinations, and these decisions should not be made rashly or without supporting documentation. For example, it is not appropriate to send a long-term student home early because subsequent host families cannot be located, nor should any inbound student be returned home in retribution for the early return of an outbound student from the partner district.
It is critical to effectively manage the logistics of early returns to ensure that students are safe and that the partner districts maintain a strong relationship. Should your district need to send a student home early, the host and sending clubs and districts, host families, and the student's parents or legal guardians must be fully informed before the student is sent home. The student should return home at the earliest practical time by a route agreed upon between the parents or legal guardians and the sending district.
All early returns, as well as any serious incidents, must be reported to Rotary International within 72 hours of the time a district officer learns of the situation. RI tracks and monitors reports of early returns to identify patterns and areas in which staff can be of assistance. It is not uncommon for exchange students or their parents to contact RI regarding an early return. For staff to promptly and effectively respond in these situations, it is necessary to have a record of the early return.
To assist in reporting, RI has developed an early return report form. This form outlines the essential information RI needs regarding the early return. The form is currently available in English only on the Youth Exchange secure site or by request. The form will be translated into additional languages in early 2010.
Ask a Youth Exchange officer
What are some tips that you and your district can offer for preparing students to speak a different language while on their exchange?
Al Kalter, chair of the Rotary Youth Exchange Florida Multidistrict, replies:
Fluency in another language is one of the great benefits of Rotary Youth Exchange. And we've all heard stories about students who arrived in their host countries not knowing a word of the language and were conversational just a few months later. While that's what happens through immersion, starting at point zero is not the best experience for either the student or the hosts.
It's unreasonable for students to expect their host families to speak any language other than their own native tongue, yet every year, Rotary exchange students board airplanes knowing little if any of their target language, only to be stunned when they find they can't communicate. It's hardly reassuring (and not really fair) to tell those students that they will be fluent in four months. Why, after all, would they want to waste those months? Or live in a cocoon of silence? Or spend all their time online with friends and family from home?
We in Rotary have a responsibility to encourage our exchange students to learn as much as possible of their target languages before they go, and the students have a responsibility to accept and actively work on that assignment. In Florida, USA, we have been requiring language acquisition work for our outbound students for several years. While some certainly do better than others, we have never had a student come back and say, "Gee, I wish I hadn't spent so much time learning the language before I left!"
So, what course of study works best? There are several good programs and resources to choose from, including Rosetta Stone, Pimsleur, and Livemocha.com. Everyone learns differently, so it's impossible to say that one program is better than the others. We feel that it's best to let the students decide, and part of our language instruction, accordingly, involves them mapping out their own language learning plan. We do set benchmarks along the way, expecting them to be progressing regularly in the months leading up to their departures.
No matter which method is used, having any sort of language training is better than having none at all. And, as a longtime district chair, I can assure you that nothing makes me happier than to hear from another Rotarian that my outbound student impressed everyone when she stepped off the plane able to communicate in her host country's native language.
Former Youth Exchange students change lives in Senegal
February, World Understanding Month, is approaching. The following story highlights former Youth Exchange students' work under a One Laptop per Child grant, just one example of how many lives are touched by former and current Youth Exchange students living abroad.
Justin Burnett and Stephanie Selvick, former Rotary Youth Exchange students, worked together in Africa in the summer of 2009 through a grant they received from One Laptop per Child. One Laptop per Child is a nonprofit based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, that provides affordable laptop computers to children in developing countries.
Stephanie was a 2001-02 outbound student in Italy and Denmark, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Sturgeon Bay (Breakfast), Wisconsin. Justin was an outbound student sponsored by the Rotary Club of Appleton for a long-term exchange to the Czech Republic in 2004-05. He will serve as the new ROTEX president for District 6220 (parts of Michigan and Wisconsin) later this year.
One Laptop per Child provides computers as learning tools in the classroom. Preloaded on each XO computer are all the necessities for an elementary school education, including protractors, calculators, word processing capabilities, books, and encyclopedias. This summer, the organization awarded a $10,000 grant and 100 computers to 30 teams of university students from Africa and North America.
Stephanie and Justin were assigned to work in Senegal, along with the the Peace Corps, receiving an additional grant, deploying 200 XO laptops to the Ecole Notre Dame elementary school. They completed three weeks of teacher training and introduced over 200 students to their new learning devices. Stephanie tells us that in addition to the five teachers whose classes received laptops, "teachers from neighboring villages, as well as the school's priest and custodian, also attend. Everyone is getting involved."
The first days of student training were encouraging; the students sat three or four to a desk to share ideas, while children from neighboring schools stood on cinder blocks outside and peered in the windows. "The key to getting this program to function long term is getting people in the area involved," Justin points out. "This isn't just a school project, it's a community project."
Stephanie and Justin recognize Rotary District 6220 as great help to the project and generous support from Rotary Youth Exchange, Rotex, those at the District Governors Conference, and local Rotary clubs. Stephanie and Justin, as well as Nicholas Negroponte, the chair of One Laptop per Child, recognize the bridge that Rotary builds between diverse global communities. It is their hope that Rotary will continue to support the effort to provide children with basic educational needs. Stephanie and Justin are looking to work with Rotary clubs in Senegal to continue working toward this goal after they leave. Follow their progress at http://africaxo.blogspot.com.
January as Rotary Awareness Month
In anticipation of Rotary Awareness Month in January, Youth Exchange officers are encouraged to promote Rotary projects among fellow Rotarians and Youth Exchange students. As Foundation Trustee Chair Glenn E. Estess Sr. says, "Raising awareness of Rotary is an important part of the RI Strategic Plan: The more Rotary is known for its good work, the more good work Rotary will be able to do."
E. Estess Sr.表示：「提高對扶輪的理解，乃是國際扶輪策略性計畫的重要部分：扶輪的行善愈廣為人知，將有能力多行善事。」
Rotary Youth Exchange students attended a presentation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, in September by the founder and CEO of the relief organization ShelterBox. One Youth Exchange student in particular, Gosia Zawadzka (hosted by the Rotary Club of Blue Bell), was so inspired by ShelterBox founder and Rotarian Tom Henderson's story that she and fellow Youth Exchange students brought back an idea for a fundraiser to the other 19 students hosted by District 7430.
Their project is to raise $1,000 to purchase a ShelterBox. Since 2000, ShelterBox has established itself at the forefront of international disaster relief, providing emergency shelter on every continent for the people who need it most. ShelterBoxes contain supplies for a family of up to 10 people who are displaced or homeless. Contents include a tent and lifesaving equipment, which are tailored to the nature and location of the disaster. Great care is taken to ensure that all items are durable enough to be of lasting value.
To achieve their goal, Gosia and fellow Youth Exchange students have been selling candy bars for $1 each. "We have been selling candy bars to our friends, host families, neighbors, and Rotary clubs. Each candy bar sold is a dollar closer to our goal. We believe that we'll collect the whole sum and send a ShelterBox from Rotary exchange students, District 7430," says Gosia.
By 1 December, the students had already raised nearly half of the $1,000. Gosia's host club counselor, Patricia Smith, remarks, "I am very proud that they are giving back. This is their project."
Visit the Youth Exchange secure site
The Youth Exchange secure site is a resource for district Youth Exchange chairs, multidistrict chairs, and past and present Youth Exchange committee members to access program-related documents, including the Youth Exchange officers' directory, past newsletters, handbooks, brochures, application forms (in Word format), upcoming conference listings, and the Rotary policies related to youth protection and the Youth Exchange program.
Current Youth Exchange officers can get to the secure site through Member Access. If you have questions, or if you experience difficulties accessing the site, please contact Youth Exchange staff at firstname.lastname@example.org for assistance.
Upcoming Youth Exchange events
If you would like information on your national or international conference published in upcoming editions of this newsletter, please e-mail us at email@example.com
South Central Rotary Youth Exchange (SCRYE) 2010 Winter Conference
Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA
Contact: Don Peters
National School Conference on International Youth Exchange
Charlotte, North Carolina, USA
The Council on Standards for Educational Travel is cosponsoring this event with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction and Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.
10th Annual North American Youth Exchange Network
Chicago, Illinois, USA
Contact: Steve Selvick
The 15th Annual Japan Youth Exchange Conference
15-16 May, 2010
Nishi-ku, Osaka, Japan
Osaka YMCA Conference Centre
Contact: Shindo Kondo
Questions and comments
Please send any questions, comments, or ideas for future issues of this newsletter to firstname.lastname@example.org.