Category Archives: Youth Exchange

NAYEN: North American Youth Exchange Network; Cancun, Mexico: March 5-8, 2014

–submitted by John Bonsett-Veal


My wife, Jan, and I recently attended a Rotary International Youth Exchange function, NAYEN 2014.  Jan will be assuming a leadership role as District 6250 Youth Exchange Chair in July.  As such, Jan wanted an opportunity to become more immersed in the protocols of Rotary Youth Exchange at the NAYEN conference.  While we were there, I was invited to help train the facilitators for the Multi-District Central States Youth Exchange conference this summer for the Rotarians who will be helping the returning rebound students cope with reverse culture shock.  Hopefully, we can give them a better ability to act as ambassadors of their former host countries to their home communities here in the United States.

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(Photo 1:  Stages of youth exchanges, cultural adaptation and reaction; Photo 2:  A cooperation workshop making towers out of spaghetti noodles and marshmallows)

The conference lasted from late Wednesday through early Sunday and addressed safety protocols, culture shock, conflict resolution and how to improve the experience of all our youth before, during and after their exchange experience.  During our time there we attended seminars, plenary sessions and workshops.  We met others of the 410 attendees from over 23 countries.  Social activities occupied the evenings.  We also had the pleasure of connecting with the former Youth Exchange Student to Oregon, Wisconsin, from Cancun, Carlos, as well as his parents and sister.  Carlos’ father, also Carlos, is the President of the Rotary Club of Cancun…  It is a small world.

The single most inspiring aspect of the conference was seeing the passion that is shared around the world by and for our Youth Exchange Ambassadorial Students.  We learned of many stories and shared our international cultures with others throughout the five days we were in Cancun.  Rotary… A positive influence the world around!


“Selfy” photo from left: Carlos’ mother, Jan, John and Carlos.

Rotary District 6250 Annual Conference

Rotary District 6250 Annual Conference, June 8th & 9th in LaCrosse, WI

June 13, 2012 //
Submitted by Jacqui Sakowski
When I accepted President Paul’s invitation to car-pool to LaCrosse the environmentalist in me leapt at the chance.  I learned so much about Paul’s life – his family, his aspirations for the future, his perspective on Rotary as he approaches the passing of the pin. What a bonus!

We arrived for the Business Meeting where we got to vote on the budget and other operational issues, before attending a very fun and inspiring lunch. We were addressed by a remarkable woman – Rotary International’s first female corporate officer and cancer sufferer, who was clearly in poor health, but spoke with confidence, energy and passion about the origins of the Four Way Test.  She was to address us 4 more times before the conference ended. A display of resilience that we were all proud to witness!

Afternoon presentations on The Holocaust, the plight of children around the world and programs that help youth adopt and live by life-enhancing values made for a very informative and fast-paced afternoon. Inbound RYE students shared cultural insights about their country before supper. Our first Oktoberfest in June, was colorful and celebratory, as you can see …

It’s June 8th it must be Oktoberfeste!

Lots of connecting and re-connecting over dinner, made for lively breakfast meetings the next morning. After you dined with a District Governor clad in leiderhosen, it’s hard to stand on ceremony ever again! We celebrated gifts to the RI Foundation, and were in awe of the impact of RI dollars, and the creativity of clubs around the district who had doubled and quadrupled funds by leveraging Rotary and non-Rotary grants to expand their reach.

Mary Kessen shares the RI Foundation update.

Jerry Mcnellis tells us why Polio is one of the gifts of his life.

Rotary Club of Madison’s Honored Hero, Nelson Cummings

At lunch on Saturday we honored Rotarian’s, selected by their own clubs as Heroes. Here Nelson Cummings is greeted by Emily, a very bright RYE student who presented him with a certificate.

The afternoon flew by with programs on wellness, Rotaract, Interact and Rotary Youth Leadership Awards – the future of Rotary and the world seems to be in great hands if the young people who addressed us are the measure.

The faces of Rotary’s future. Pauline, Charlotte and Emy.

At dinner John Hewko and Betsy Demaray spoke about the importance of documenting Rotary’s true impact in the world, before the conference concluded with the (slightly early) installation of Rob Stroud as 2012-2013 District Governor.

Rob took the pin and then the stage, from where he invited Rotarian’s to assemble in Madison on May 31st and June 1st next year to celebrate 100 years of Rotary Service and Fellowship in WI, at Monona Terrace.

Paul and I headed out of LaCrosse at about 9;15 p.m. As we compared experiences on the journey home we realized that we each had new friends, new appreciation for the works and opportunities of Rotary, and an invigorated Rotary spirit to bring to our best efforts in the coming months.  I am already excited for next year!