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Rotary Club seeks host

CHESTERTOWN - In conjunction with North Warren High School, the Chestertown Rotary is planning to host a student from abroad for the 2010-2011 school year, and the group is now seeking host families for the visiting teenager.

Presently there is one host family committed to host the student for the initial several months of the foreign student's stay here, which begins in late August, Rotary officials said Monday.

The Club is now seeking to line up two or three additional families to accommodate the student for several months at a time over the rest of the school year, Rotary official John Hagmann said.

"It's a marvelous program, and everybody benefits including the exchange students, the school community, and host family members," he said. "Hosting an exchange student often changes one's impression of the culture of the student's country - and it absolutely enhances international understanding."

A host family is responsible for providing lodging and food to the visiting student. The families traditionally treat the student as a member of their family and involve them in most all family activities. The host family is expected to encourage the visiting student to be actively engaged in school and community activities so they have a fulfilling experience during their school year at North Warren, Hagmann said. A positive by-product of this experience, he said, is the exposure that members of the family have to a person from another culture.

"It is a truly rewarding and educational experience," he said.

The local Rotary Club, now in its 62nd year, has been involved in this International Youth Exchange Program for many years, Hagmann said.

North Warren 2008 graduate Zach Smith was the most recent local participant in the program. Zach spent the 2008-2009 school year as an exchange student in Brazil. He found the experience to be exceptional and he returned to the U.S. with an expanded appreciation for South American culture, Hagmann said.

Rotary International launched the program in the 1920s and it now serves more than 80,000 students in more than 80 countries. Rotary International sponsors this program with the belief that exposure to different cultures is one of the most powerful ways to promote peace and international understanding, Hagmann said.

The Chestertown Rotary encourages anyone who has an interest in hosting an incoming foreign student or merely wants to review information on hosting a student to contact David Schlansker at 251-5737 or John Hagmann at 494-4637 for details.

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