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Rotary Club exchange student heads home

By Staff | Jan 20, 2012

Abby Butler is shown with Rotarians Paul Woods, left, and Monica Lockett.

On Jan. 10, the Shepherdstown Rotary Club bade farewell to Abby Butler, an Australian high school student who returned home two days later after spending a year living and studying in Shepherdstown under the auspices of Rotary’s Youth Exchange Program.

Abby, 16, is from Inverloch, a village of about 4,000 people near Melbourne on Australia’s southern coast.

While in Shepherdstown she stayed with two local families and was enrolled in Jefferson High School -as a sophomore last spring and as a junior last fall.

A vivacious young lady with a keen interest in American culture, Abby frequently attended Shepherdstown Rotary Club breakfasts and was a favorite of club members.

The Rotary Youth Exchange Program is more than 75 years old. It operates worldwide under the auspices of Rotary International and is administered at the regional level by Rotary districts and at the local level by Rotary clubs. The program is open to above-average students who have demonstrated leadership in their community. Each year, more than 8,000 students from 80 different countries participate.

Participants are sponsored by their hometown Rotary Club and live with host families and attend school in a different country. They can choose between short-term exchanges that last from several days to several months or long-term exchanges that last a full year.

Both options provide them with opportunities not only to learn more about another part of the world but also to serve as ambassadors, teaching others about their own country’s culture and history.

Cost arrangement can vary but typically participants and their parents pay for travel costs and insurance and provide spending money. Room and board is provided by host families, and schooling costs are covered by host communities. Hometown and host Rotary clubs may provide grants or stipends to help cover costs.

More details about the program can be found on the Shepherdstown Rotary website at www.shepherdstownrotary.org/youth_exchange.

Local families who would like to learn more about enrolling their own children in the program, or about hosting a foreign student here, should contact Shepherdstown Rotary Club members Paul Woods at paul@biztechsource.com or 304-885-4399 or Jennifer Peterson at Jennifer.peterson@smithbarney.com or 304-886-7543.