While much of the world focuses on dealing with long term international conflict and the threat of war, 23 students from across Colorado spent an intensive weekend May 4-6 in Estes Park focused on being ambassadors for world peace.
The students, including Isabella Ward from Pine, Colorado and a junior at Platte Canyon High School, were selected as this year’s goodwill ambassadors as a part of the Rotary Youth Exchange program and will spend a year abroad in countries across the world. She is the first student from Platte Canyon to achieve this honor. They will live with host families selected by Rotary and attend the schools nearby.
“This is such an awesome opportunity for me and for the hundreds of other students that Rotary supports every year. We never would have been able to undertake anything like this without their support and guidance. I hope to someday become a Rotarian myself so I can find ways to give back to my global community as well,” said Isabella.
Isabella, sponsored by the Rotary Club of Conifer will travel to Austria later this summer and begin her adventure with two weeks at an intensive language camp near Salzburg in “The Sound of Music” country and then connect with her first host family.
She was chosen in the highly competitive process in part due to her high academic achievements, involvement in community service efforts and her previous experience with Rotary Youth Leadership Awards programs. She has been a long time “young Rotarian” and attended the Conifer club’s weekly breakfast meetings from a very early age.
As a young ambassador she will be teaching people she meets about her culture and will be sharing her ideas on to make this a better world to live in, ideally developing a greater understanding of how we are all ultimately alike and share so many values.
Of course letting your child go out and explore the world does not go without
During the weekend conference all participants accepted the responsibility to:
- Act as an ambassador for their home country
- Abide by all program rules of the host Rotary club and district
- Accept the supervision of the host family, club, and district
- Ask questions of the host family and local Rotarians
- Be an active participant in their exchange
The students learned about the important and diverse Rotary work that has undertaken and how it has improved our world for over a hundred years, including significant progress toward polio eradication, teaching principles of high ethical standards, improving literacy and the importance of community and international volunteerism.
For over 75 years, students and host families have broadened their horizons through Rotary Youth Exchange. More than 80 countries and over 8,000 students each year participate in the program, which is administered at the regional level by Rotary districts and at the local level by Rotary clubs.
They learned that over 1.2 million Rotarians in more than 32,000 clubs in over 200 countries create the extensive network that provides support for Youth Exchange and the many other Rotary sponsored initiatives.
A commitment to youth
In addition they learned that Rotary maintains a strong connection to youth and young adults. Besides Youth Exchange, Rotary clubs sponsor youth service clubs such as Interact , Rotaract , and RYLA and offer career development and mentoring programs.