ROTARY NEWS BASKET -- NO. 471 02 October 1996
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Former Youth Exchangee gives back through another Rotary exchange
Ten years after what she called her most rewarding and enriching experience,” former Youth Exchange student Leanne Haynes had the opportunity to give something back to the Rotary program that changed her life. The Traverse City, Michigan, social studies teacher, who studied in 1986-87 in Brazil, returned to that country this summer this time through another Rotary-sponsored exchange program. Through the Rotary Intercountry Teacher Exchange (RITE), initiated and managed by Rotarians in Texas District 5790, Leanne taught a four-week language and orientation course in São Paulo for outbound Youth Exchange students.
"The opportunity to share the fruits of my experience of nearly 10 years ago far exceeded my hopes and expectations," Leanne remarked. "I was received with open arms by the Rotarians and families of the Rotary clubs of São Paulo and was given 100 percent support in the creation of an all-encompassing learning experience." She explained that her program had a dual focus: to teach English basics and to prepare the students for the challenges and experiences they would face in their year as goodwill ambassadors. She created a stimulating curriculum including songs, role-playing, speeches and class field trips, all of which were enthusiastically received by the 28 young Brazilians.
"I learned not to be embarrassed of trying to speak English, that you learn by your mistakes," responded one student in a course evaluation. Said another, "The most important thing I learned was the value of friendship and the importance of respect for others’ ideas, beliefs and opinions." All of the students emphasized the importance of the course in increasing their confidence and understanding of the exchange process.
Since the RITE program was established during the 1991-92 Rotary year, dozens of volunteer teachers have traveled between the U.S. and Argentina, Brazil, Mexico and Russia, teaching their native language to business and professional people, workers in the tourist industry, law enforcement officers, school children and other teachers. The teachers’ transportation generally is funded by Rotary clubs in their native country while their room and board is provided by Rotarians in the communities they visit.
"It is imperative to realize the worth of the program," Leanne commented in a follow-up report. "In addition to language teaching, I think the exchange also should involve history, geography and social studies teachers," she added. "When a teacher comes from another country, it brings a little of the world to students, many of whom my former students in Chicago, for example may never have the opportunity to travel abroad." Leanne learned about RITE through her mother, Barbara, a Dallas-area Rotarian and host to several Youth Exchange students.
For more information on the Rotary Intercountry Teacher Exchange, contact Past District Governor Conrad Heede at fax (817) 282-2400 or the program’s World Wide Web site at http://www.rite-teacher.com.