President Tim was very pleased to welcome, via Zoom, some of Rotary's Exchange Students, some recent, some from a number of years ago, all with updates on their lives.  We have learned a lot from our exchange students over the years and we are hoping to get the program up and running again soon.
In addition to the students, host parents also participated in the update -- Sam Brady, Tracy Bray, Karen Baker, Doug Peterson, Cory MacKay, Bill MacKay, Darrell Smith, Judy (and Tim) McKinney.
Panu Puhaka (Finland) was a Rotary Exchange Student 9 years ago with the Brady family as his host family.  Panu has recently finished his undergrad degree and is now studying "Political Violence".  He has been volunteering through Rotary (ROTEX) for 7 years in New Zeland.  He has stopped swimming, but is running.  His time as an exchange student gave him valuable language skills and encouraged him to pursue international studies. Panu is pictured here with Len Kennedy.
Salina Savijoki (Finland) was accepted into a foundation program in London (performing arts studies), but became ill part way through the term, then had an injury and had to drop out.  She moved back home to finish all of her high school credits and is now on a gap year, working and doing some travelling.  She applied to universities in the UK for Theatre Arts programs and has opted to attend classes at the University in Chichester, focusing on the three areas of performing arts -- singing, acting and dancing.  She is presently living in Portsmouth in England which is 2 hours from London.  The Rotary Exchange Student program changed her life, helping her to learn about herself, her abilities, to believe in herself and to learn about different cultures.  Selina is pictured here with Sam Brady.
Debbie Lane (nee Howard-Browne) was an exchange student in 1978-79.  She is living in South Africa and has returned a few times to visit Canada.  She had led a very sheltered life and learned a lot while on the exchange program.  She feels this is a very valuable program that offers great benefits to young people and should be continued.  She highly recommends the youth exchange program.
Gaspard Alavoine (France) was a recent exchange student (2018 to 2019).  He graduated Grade 12 and was accepted in a program at a City Culinary School and starts in two weeks!  The exchange program helped him to become more self-sufficient and to work out some personal situations.
Juan Poblete (Chile), also called JuanPi is in 3rd year of law school in Conception, Chile.  Rotary Exchange was the best year of his life and he realizes now what a great country that Canada is.  Very advanced.  JuanPi was inspired to pursue law as a career because he wants to help people.
Julian Kraus (Germany) -- was not on the Zoom call, but this photo will remind you of his visit to our Club.
Jakob Sundman (Sweden), a 2015 Rotary Exchange Student is currently living in Stockholm,  He is a photographer and working for a furniture sales company.  Jakob said the exchange year was very good for him.  It opened him up socially and gave him confidence.  It started his life going forward.  He commented on COVID-19 in Sweden with more loss of life than in other scandinavian countries.  Nine out of twenty cases in Sweden have contacted the virus at work.  Those at risk are told to stay at home, but not much else has changed.  The majority of people in Stockholm have had the virus.
Sam Brady thanked the former exchange students for sharing their comments and updates on their lives now.  The importance of the exchange program is not lost on any of the members of our Club and said it will always be a challenge to attract host families.  What the students bring to you as a host family is as much as what you give to them.