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My Experience in the Rotary Exchange Student Program

Updated on June 22, 2014

International Studies

This lens is a place to gather information and comments on what it is like to be a Rotary Exchange Student.

I'll share my experiences as an exchange student for Rotary International in Sao Paulo, Brasil. (no it is spelled right, at least there!)

There are other exchange programs too. It would be nice to hear from any of who who served as 'ambassadors' to other countries.

Please feel free to comment on your experience!

The photos on this lens are mine unless otherwise noted.

Sao Paulo
Sao Paulo

My Experience

Sao Paolo, Brasil - Club 461

In 1982, I boarded a plane from Idaho and flew to Sao Paolo, Brasil via Miami and maybe a stop over in Rio? Can't remember so long ago. What I remember is the group of kids I met on the plane and arriving a whole day later in a foreign country. I was very lucky. I had a great family. The father was American so there was some English spoken in the home. This helped in being able to learn the language without so much stress. Although my friends who were totally immersed seemed to speak better Portuguese in the end with better accents etc. But it was great. I lived with this family in a high rise apartment/condo. I had my own bedroom and shared the bathroom with only one brother.

We went to Colegio Rio Branco every day for school. All the exchange students would meet up and sometimes we would run around town and explore. I wouldn't say that we were really expected to participate a lot in school. That was the only thing. But we participated in LIFE in Sao Paolo! I learned so much I would never learn in Idaho. Imagine from a town of 921 to MILLIONS!! WOO HOO!

As long as we fulfilled our requirements we sort of were able to do what we wanted to. So we went to the required classes, weekly Rotary meetings where we had to be prepared to give presentations at the lunches. This really prepared me for my education career. Can you imagine a teenager having to prepare weekly presentations to business owners? !!!! And even in 95 degree weather and 100% humidity still wearing a jacket and tie. WHEW!

The best part of the whole experience was learning about other parts of the world and living in Brasil. There were about 80 exchange students in Sao Paolo at about any time. So, the world became a much smaller place. Too bad we didn't have the internet back then to keep in touch. Over time our names have changed through marriage, we just moved one too many times or just went in different directions.

Wouldn't it be great if some old friend reconnected through this?

image credit

Rotary Exchange Student Jacket

A great networking tool!

See the jacket in the text box above that I am wearing? Well, this is one of the best parts of being a Rotary Exchange Student. Some people were able to get jackets from their local club but I just used my band jacket from Wood River High School.

What happens is that each student has pins from their own country town etc and you exchange them when you meet up. I got IDAHO Potato buttons from the Idaho Potato Commission. Everyone who met me that year got an idaho Spud to proudly wear on their own jacket!

As you can see I am covered with buttons from all over the world and of course some Adam Ant, Go-Gos, Bow Wow Wow and other 80's icons!

Your Rotary Jacket - Come on, tell us!

Do you still have your Jacket?

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Movies I Saw When I Was In Brasil

Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands

A great movie that shares the culture of Brasil.

 
Victor/ Victoria
Victor/ Victoria

I saw this my first night in Brasil with my host family.

 
Xuxa Funtastic Birthday Party! [VHS]
Xuxa Funtastic Birthday Party! [VHS]

Xuxa is the Madonna of Brasil. I saw her perform at a mall once. She is so pretty and fun!

 
Midnight Express
Midnight Express

I saw this movie in a theater and when we came out the city was in martial law because of the milk riots. It was so scary!

 

Open question about Rotary Clubs

Now that it is over 20 years later! I would like to know what are the steps one would need to take to become a Rotarian? Do you need a sponsor? Does anyone have any experience with this they would like to share?

These are some videos that give me Saudades - Look it up!

This about sums it up! Disney Style

Were you Rotary or FYI? What district? How long?

Were you an exchange student?

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    • profile image

      Sad mom 3 years ago

      My son was in Natal Brazil through the Rotary. He was brutally raped by a Natal Rotarian while 2 exchange students from Mexico held him down. Local Rotary wants to sweep under rug. Son too fragile to come forward with story.

    • caossquidoo profile image

      caossquidoo 3 years ago

      A todos os brasileiros venho dar a conhecer o BlogDosNetworkers.blogspot.com, onde podem ver dicas diarias de como melhorar e Construir as suas Redes de Contatos profissionais.

    • Hairdresser007 profile image
      Author

      James Jordan 4 years ago from Burbank, CA

      @anonymous: Thank you for the kind words. It was so exciting to see my lens in the Pop Culture Quest!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I've always wondered what the Rotary was about and now I know its been an avenue of wonderful life experience for young people...cool jacket and great opportunity for you...congratulations on your purple star and Pop Culture feature! :)

    • CaztyBon profile image

      CaztyBon 4 years ago

      I was never an exchange student.

    • Northerntrials profile image

      Northerntrials 4 years ago

      I wasn't a Rotary but I was in the Boy Scouts and we did similar things with badges and pin exchanges. My campfire poncho was covered in them.

    • Hairdresser007 profile image
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      James Jordan 4 years ago from Burbank, CA

      @anonymous: I keep in email and fb contact with Kris B and Gary from Aus. Are you from NZ?

      Check replies below for a link to one of the group photos.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      hey, I remember you. I was a Rotary exchange student in Sao Paulo in 1982 too. Are you in contact with anyone from that time?

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 4 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      No, I was never an exchange student.

    • Hairdresser007 profile image
      Author

      James Jordan 5 years ago from Burbank, CA

      @anonymous: I just finally now went and looked at your website. Do you know if they did one for 82/83? Would be great to see where everyone ended up. In the picture you posted from Sept 83 I see some of my old friends in there! Thank you for sharing!

    • profile image

      rafael-portilho 5 years ago

      I was an exchange student from District 4620 and i was for 2 months at Dorsten, a german city at the stat of Nordrhein Westfalen. It was really nice. 2007-2008

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      Khaleeka 6 years ago

      I was an exchange student from 7040 (Southwestern Quebec-Southeastern Ontario & northern NY) and spent the Year in southern Ecuador in 95-96. Blessings!

    • profile image

      Khaleeka 6 years ago

      I was an exchange student from 7040 (Southwestern Quebec-Southeastern Ontario & northern NY) and spent the Year in southern Ecuador in 95-96. Blessings!

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      anonymous 6 years ago

      I was in 461 the year after you, so we knew the same Aussies, etc. Check out http://www.brasch.com/international/brazil.shtml

    • Hairdresser007 profile image
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      James Jordan 6 years ago from Burbank, CA

      @anonymous: what small little pond we swim in. I hope we didn't leave too much damage!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Cool lens, glad I checked it out tonight. If you like to browse lens as I do, mine has a great educational topic with poll questions for my readers to enjoy.

    • RickBasset profile image

      RickBasset 7 years ago

      Sounds like it was an awesome experience! Always good for us to expand our horizons by learning how other people live.

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 7 years ago from Southampton, UK

      I have never done anything like this, but it must have been an amazing experience.

    • Hairdresser007 profile image
      Author

      James Jordan 7 years ago from Burbank, CA

      @anonymous: Congratulations! It will be the best experience you will have to date! Are you going with Rotary? Where are you going? Do you know yet? I was supposed to go to Germany but they changed it to Brasil 3 weeks before I was to go!!! I am so glad though I still ended up going to Germany with work. I think I've been there about 10 times now. Let me know if you need any advise or whatever! I am so excited for you it is the best!!!

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Thanks for sharing your experience! I'm becoming a foreign exchange student this upcoming fall with rotary and Brasil was high on my ranking! I hope my experience is going to be as great as your's seems to have been.

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      Pete Schultz 7 years ago

      Our Rotary Club has been hosting/sponsoring exchange students for many years, and I always enjoy meeting the students that come here, and hearing from the students that leave here to study abroad. It is a wonderful cultural and educational exchange.

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I was never a rotary exchange student, but met a few people who were. It was nice reading through your experience. It's must have been quite the challenge, but a lot of fun. Looks like it was a great learning experience for you...what a great opportunity...thanks for sharing! **Blessed by a Squid-Angel**

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