Rotary has been organising youth exchanges for over 60 years and, each year worldwide, over 7000 young people enjoy the experience of a lifetime through the Rotary Long Term Exchange programme which runs for a full school year providing incredible opportunities for young people to see the world, experience a different way of life and make new friends. Rotary Clubs all over the world sponsor students currently in Years 11- 13 (5th & 6th Form), to live and study at a similar level in a foreign country where they are hosted by selected families and treated as part of those families.
Almancil International Rotary Club (AIRC) is participating again this year and is hosting Adrian Chang, a student from Taipei in Taiwan. Adrian is 18 years old and has been sponsored by Taipei Tienmou Rotary Club to spend a school year in the Algarve. The club, chartered in 1948 was the first Rotary Club to be established on the island of Taiwan.
Adrian travelled by himself from Taipei to Lisbon; a 24 hour journey, where he was met by the Rotary District 1960 chair of the Youth Exchange Committee Carlos Proença, Constantin Ostermann von Roth (a member of the District 1960 Youth Exchange Committee and AIRC members Dr Raymond Parfait and Mark Hulit.
"Adrian was full of energy, highly engaged, and curious about everything" said Mark. "He asked at least one question per kilometre between Lisbon and the Algarve". Raymond provided a short lesson on cork trees (which he saw being harvested from the motorway) and olive groves which were totally unfamiliar to him. Along the stretches of wide-open country side, he commented on seeing "so much open space without houses!”.
Two families will be hosting Adrian during his time in the Algarve. For the first half of the year he will stay with Drs Inês and Gill dos Santos João and their 3 children and after the Christmas holidays with Rotarians Pamela and Alan Winn of the Rotary Club of Silves. In addition AIRC volunteers will be taking him on various cultural and fun trips. He will be attending Escola Secundaria de Loulé where he will follow the same curriculum as his classmates with some extra tuition in Portuguese. He has already been studying Portugal's history and geography and has a good smattering of Portuguese.
At a recent AIRC dinner meeting Adrian was the guest speaker and gave a very professional presentation on the geography, flora and fauna of Taiwan. He was both amusing and informative and even brought some typical Taiwanese sweets for members and guests to enjoy.
"We are very pleased and proud to be able to host this exceptional student" said AIRC President Hermes Alberto. "Adrian is a credit to his sponsor club and It is through projects like this that young people appreciate the lives of others and their cultures. We hope that when they return to their own countries they will share their experiences and promote peace and goodwill".