Foreign Exchange Students
My name is Christine Leach. I am now a member of the Louisville Rotary Club and a former Rotary Youth Exchange Student. In 1977-1978 I spent my junior year of high school living abroad as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student in Kofu, Japan. Over 30 years later, I am still using bits and pieces of that experience in my life.
During my year abroad I lived with four Rotary host families and attended high school in Kofu. I learned how to speak and write the Japanese language; studied traditional flower arranging and Japanese calligraphy; sang with the high school chorus; played on the school volleyball team; and took several school trips to historical sites in Japan. I was also fortunate enough to attend the International Rotary Convention which was held in Tokyo near the end of my year’s stay in Japan.
Upon returning from my year abroad, I completed college and became a special educator. I incorporated much of what I had learned about Japan when teaching my students. Now as a community volunteer, I teach others about Japanese origami and the culture. The experience still lives on as well as some of the friendships I developed over 30 years ago. My husband and I visited Kofu, Japan in 2009 and I was able to show him the school I attended and introduced him to several of my friends there – a true blessing!
If you are interested in meeting new people, developing valuable life skills, learning about other cultures, being a part of enhancing world understanding and world peace, traveling, teaching others about United States’ culture, and learning more about yourself, then the Rotary Youth Exchange Program is one you will want to investigate further!
Rotary International offers several youth exchange programs for individuals ranging in age from 15 to 25 with exchange programs lasting for a period of as little as several weeks to several months to a yearlong exchange. For complete details about the Rotary Youth Exchange Program, CLICK HERE