Arrow Lakes News
The Rotary international youth exchange is an exciting opportunity for students aged 15 to 19 to travel abroad and spend a year in a different country. Promoted as a chance to share and strengthen one’s own culture while helping to work towards Rotary goals of global understanding, up to 8000 students participate in the program every year. The Nakusp Rotary club facilitates youth exchanges by acting as liaisons as well as providing a support network for young students who find themselves on a Canadian adventure. The local youth exchange officer for the Nakusp Rotary chapter is Bill Tobey and he has no doubt that “our community, school and students are richer from the exposure to our Rotary exchange students.”
Nakusp has an active history with the youth exchange program and has seen many students come and go. Most recently, local resident, Silken Jones, traveled to Brazil for 4 weeks and 15 year-old Pato Morfin arrived in Nakusp from Mexico in August, 2014.
Morfin is nearing the end of his year-long stay and is preparing to return to his family on July 8 with stories about cold winters and the glory that is Canadian food.
“I will be bringing home maple cookies and maple syrup to share with my friends and family, but for me, my favorite food was the poutine. When I first saw it I thought ‘why would you eat this, it looks gross,’ but then I tasted it and I changed my mind. My family will probably say the same thing when I show them poutine.”
During the exchange, Morfin challenged all the usual stereotypes about Canada and opened up his perspective about Canadians and life abroad. When asked why he participated in the Rotary program, Morfin explained he “loves to travel and wanted to learn a new language. My older brother and sister did exchanges and when my father asked if I wanted to do a youth exchange I said, ‘why not?’”
Summing up his experience, Morfin described his time in Canada as, “wonderful, with wonderful people. Everyone always tells you that the first three months are the most difficult, but for me was not difficult. I made many friends and my host families and teachers helped me out a lot.”
Tobey wishes the outgoing student Morfin “every success in the future as he returns to Mexico,” and acknowledges “all of those who help support the Rotary Youth Exchange Program; the three host families who gave Pato a home, the Nakusp Secondary School who welcomed him and guided him through our school year, and of course a huge thank you to all the students who became his friends over the year and not only helped him experience our culture but also discovered a bit about life for a student in Mexico.”
With Morfin heading out as an outbound youth exchange student, Rotary prepares to welcome inbound student May Snyder from Japan who is scheduled to arrive in August, and will be bidding farewell to Claire Yaremchuk from Lucerne School in New Denver, who will be spending eleven months in Switzerland.