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Monday, July 22, 2024


Aug. 29, 2003 — Rotary Club of St. Thomas II has launched the first Youth Exchange Program in the Virgin Islands. The exchange student, Natacha Vandeputte, hails from Bondues, a small town in the north of France not far from Lille.
A typical teenager, she likes modern dance, the performing arts, and basketball. Natacha began her first day of classes at Antilles School on Aug. 20. She will spend one year at Antilles School and will graduate with Antilles' Class of 2004. She hopes to someday become an English teacher or an international businesswoman.
The board of directors and the members of the Rotary Club of St. Thomas II are quite excited to host Natacha, said a release. "We extend a warm Virgin Islands welcome to Natacha. It is our hope that her short time here with us will be enjoyable. Her involvement in Rotary International's Youth Exchange Program will serve as positive life experience," said Cheryl George Chance, president of Rotary II.
Rotary International's Youth Exchange Program began in an effort that involved only a few clubs in 1929, said a release. The first documented exchange was initiated by Rotary Club of Copenhagen and involved only European exchanges. These European exchanges continued until World War II and resumed after the war in 1946.
In 1972, The Rotary International board of directors agreed to recommend Youth Exchange to clubs worldwide as a worthwhile international activity. Today, the program has grown to include approximately 80 countries and more than 7,000 students each year.
The Youth Exchange Program is open to all qualified students ages 15-19, including children of Rotarians. Qualified applicants are academically above- average, articulate, and demonstrate community leadership skills.
The paths of Youth Exchange are well charted. Each year thousands of young people travel these paths and discover an exhilarating experience that shapes their lives. The Rotarians who make this possible see great rewards. They see young people whose minds have broadened to meet new horizons, families whose lives have been enriched by a visitor from abroad, school officials who praise the stimulating effect of exchange students in the classroom, and other Rotarians who learn how Youth Exchange can be a powerful force in the effort to build better relations among peoples of the world.
"Our Youth Exchange Program is but one of our international community projects for this Rotary year. We encourage the young people in our community to participate in our programs for youth," Chance concluded.
Antilles School and staff hosted two exchange students from the Republic of Cameroon for the previous school year under another sponsorship program.

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