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LOTS OF MOMS — Rotary Youth Exchange program participant Mauro Romero, from Pucallpa, Peru, relaxes with his host moms, from left, Becky Fleishel, Erica Nompleggi and Kelly Crump. Romero visited the DeLand area during the 2016-17 school year. The search is underway to find host families for this year’s Rotary Youth Exchange. Two students are scheduled to be hosted by West Volusia Rotary clubs. If you’re interested in finding out more, email the Rotary Youth Exchange director at tracy.grinnen@ryeflorida.org or call 386-801-2607.

Editor, The Beacon:

The DeLand Breakfast Rotary Club and the Rotary Club of DeBary, Deltona and Orange City — along with the District 6970 Rotary Youth Exchange Program — need the help of Beacon readers for a most worthwhile and rewarding effort: hosting an exchange student!

The Rotary Youth Exchange is one of Rotary International’s oldest and most successful programs.

The program is unique because, on both sides of the world, in the student’s hometown and in his or her host community, a local Rotary club is involved in the process from beginning to end.

In the student’s home country, the District Rotary Youth Exchange team spends months vetting the students and preparing them for the journey of a lifetime. The students arrive with a working knowledge of the language and traditions of their new home, helping to ease the culture shock a bit.

Students are greeted at the airport by their host family and members of the Rotary Youth Exchange team, immediately letting them and their families know they are never alone.

Also, the Rotary district has a youth-protection officer, and the hosting club also has an assigned counselor and youth exchange officer. The students can go to these individuals at any time for help and support. The club keeps in touch with the students’ families on a continual basis to address any concerns or questions.

For our inbound students, District 6970 sets up a series of fun events throughout the year. In September, the teens will spend the weekend in Gainesville attending a University of Florida football game, and they will spend four days at Disney World in December. They’ll also enjoy a long weekend on Amelia Island in the springtime.

The DeBary/Deltona/Orange City Rotary Club is hosting a student who will be attending University High School in Orange City. The DeLand Breakfast Club is hosting a student who will be attending DeLand High School.

Host-family commitments are not a full year. Rotary recommends that students have at least two or three host families during the exchange year.

For two host families, the hosting periods are August-January and January-June. If three host families are secured, the hosting periods are August-October for the first family, November-February for the second family, and March-June for the third host family.

Rotary’s purpose for having multiple host families is that this allows the students to experience different home environments.

Tracy Grinnen

Orange City

— Grinnen, a member of the Rotary Club of DeBary, Deltona and Orange City, is director of operations for the Rotary Youth Exchange in Florida and Georgia. She became interested in Rotary Youth Exchange in 2012, after her daughter Taylor studied abroad in Russia during her senior year of high school.