Discover Tillsonburg Spring 2019

interviews with interested candidates. This year there wereonly3 interestedstudents and through interviews and discussions with parents, the list was narrowed, and Rachel Mann has become the outbound student for 2019/20. The ultimate destination is unknown to the students through this process until they are announced in February. These announcements are one of the highlights of the process for Bob. The reactions of students and parents are unpredictable and always amusing. Rachel learned she will be going to Switzerland. Her memory of the event was relief and happiness to finally know where she was going. “I was surprised by how much I have grown and my confidence has increased in the short time. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my strengths”, says Rachel. In addition to long-term exchanges, there are short- term exchange opportunities each year. These exchanges last from several days to three months. They are often structured as youth camps, tours, or homestays that take place when school is not in session. The program in Tillsonburg is doing well driven by efforts by the many volunteers in the community. Across the region however, there is some decline in numbers. In Tillsonburg’s district in 2017 there were 22 outbound students, 15 in 2018, and in 2019 the number

has declined to only 7. In some cases, students do not want to delay their graduation for the opportunity. Going at a younger age (between the ages of 15-19) helps with this concern, but parents are often reluctant to let their kids travel. Bob and his peers in the district are putting renewed emphasis on these fundamental principles to reverse the trends that have been experienced. The connections students make to their host families and friends extends through their lives. Patricia Drouvot came to Tillsonburg in 1985 from France and was immediately immersed in our Canadian culture. She maintained her

close connection with her host family. After her wedding, she came back to Canada for her honeymoon, and made sure to visit with Bob and her support system as part of that trip, and has since returned with her three children to spend more time in Tillsonburg. The experience of Rotary Youth Exchange is life altering. It teaches youth to be independent, open-minded and inspired. With community support, it can keep going for another 50 years! For more information on how you can get involved with Rotary Youth Exchange, please contact Bob Marsden at 519-983-2498 or Rick Cox at 226-377-1249.

From left: Rachel Mann, Glendale High School student and Luanna Amarilla, exchange student from Paraguay.


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