Posted on Jul 15, 2019

Students, from left, Maranda Suescun, Bea Fortes, Gage Weaver, Kathryn McGuirk and Signe Karlstrom, are all excited as they prepare to travel for the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. Photo by David Tatchin



n Wednesday, June 26, the Humble Rotary Club gathered for its weekly meeting and discussed the Rotary Youth Exchange Program.

“The Rotary Youth Exchange is a program that provides thousands of young people with the opportunity to meet people from other lands and to experience other cultures,” said Susan Brodbeck, youth exchange officer.

President Danny Contreras added, “[One of our goals] is to build peace around the world with the student exchange program.”

Brodbeck went on to discuss other aspects of the program, noting that, “Students [who participate] in the long-term exchange program will travel across the ocean and live in another country for a year.”

In order to qualify for the exchange program, one must go through a selection process which carries certain requirements.“We [conduct] careful interviews, orientations and camps in order to select the students that are most prepared,” said Brodbeck. “Students must be in high school when they apply. They need to be above average in grades and students must have a willingness to adapt as they must learn a new language and [assimilate] into a new culture.”

- Exciting opportunities await students -

The aforementioned long-term exchange program is one of the two programs offered by Rotary.

“There is also a short-term summer program and we currently have four students participating in it. It is a one-on-one exchange with another student in the Northern Hemisphere and the student will be hosted by one family,” said Brodbeck. Conversely, the long-term exchange program is “hosted by two to three families. Participants will become fluent in another language. We are currently looking for about 20 students in the Houston area to participate.”

One of the attractive features is the cost of the programs.

“The short-term program costs $2,000, which can go down if one has free miles. The long-term program costs $6,000. The amount for the long-term program seems like a lot, but after consideration, this program is the equivalent of one receiving a $20,000 scholarship,” said Brodbeck.

Students entering the program discussed their goals and motivations for joining the exchange program.

Gage Weaver spoke first. He will be flying out to Munster, Germany. He said, “The primary goal of this trip is to build my social skills.”

Signe Karlstrom is a recent graduate of Kingwood High School and will be traveling to LaRochelle, France. “I will be in the Bordeaux region. My goal is to establish a strong bond with my host family and to establish a lasting impression on [the host Rotary] club,” said Karlstrom.

Maranda Suescun, a student of Summer Creek High School, was the sole student in the short-term exchange program present at the meeting and will be traveling to Hamburg, Germany. “It is an honor to be a part of this club. During this trip, my goal will be to represent Texans, Americans and the Humble Rotary Club,” she said.

Kathryn McGuirk, an incoming junior, will be going to Damnatz, Germany, a small town with a population of about 300. “My goals for the exchange are to learn German fluently and to create lasting relationships with my host club,” said McGuirk.

Bea Fortes will be flying to Arese, Italy. “My goals are to share my Brazilian and American heritage, become a better person and to help create world peace,” said Fortes.

“We have a life before and after the exchange,” said Phillipe Cras, former president and member of the Rotary Club.

If interested in the Rotary Exchange program, Brodbeck can be contacted at