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Rotary’s Youth Exchange program

1 April 2013 5,211 views No Comment

March 2013

Dear fellow Rotarians,

When I was a young man, I wanted to travel the world. But in those years, I could only dream about travel. The world outside Japan seemed far away. But like all Japanese students, I studied English in school. I still remember my first English book. The first page said, “This is a pen.” That was almost 50 years ago, and the world has changed a lot since then. As president of Rotary, I now travel more than I ever dreamed.

In every new place, I find a new language. I find new people and new customs. I do my best to learn from everyone. I believe that every person I meet has something to teach. Perhaps because of this, I feel that I understand Rotary Youth Exchange better. And I understand even better what a great gift Rotary is giving through Youth Exchange. Youth Exchange opens minds. It builds confidence and communication. It brings together people from different countries and backgrounds.

Every young person who goes on a Rotary Youth Exchange will learn a great deal. Youth Exchange students learn how people who seem so different are really the same. They begin to appreciate what unites people everywhere. They have a broader understanding of the world. They come back as different people.

They no longer know only one language, only one culture. They have connections with their host country, and with their fellow participants from other countries. At the end of their exchange, they are part of their host families. They are also part of the Rotary family – the largest and most international family in the world.

Rotary’s Youth Exchange program has continued for more than 40 successful years and is now part of the fifth Avenue of Service: New Generations Service. This avenue also includes service through Interact, Rotaract, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards, and many club and district activities that involve people up to age 30.

When we focus on young people, we are focusing on building the future of Rotary and a more peaceful world. When we serve youth, we help to bring Rotary to a new generation. We spread understanding among nations and cultures. We teach the importance of service to others, and pass on our core values. By doing this, we help to build peace.

Youth Exchange plays an essential part in Rotary’s global mission of building peace by helping to build, one exchange at a time, good relationships between nations.

Sakuji Tanaka

RI President, RY 2012-13

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