Darren spoke to our Club on October 4, 2010 as the Inbound Chair of the Youth Exchange Committee for our District 5370. He left us all inspired to make a difference in the lives of each and every student who we host in our Club. Thanks, Darren.
Rotary Youth Exchange started in 1929. Darren describes it as a 10-month cultural exchange - high school is used as a vehicle to facilitate the exchange, but the students put their academia on hold for the year in their home country to participate in the exchange.

In our district, the Youth Exchange Committee went through a major overhaul in 2006 when it conducted a strategic analysis of the program at that time. It was discovered that major changes and updates were necessary to ensure that it remained relevant to the Rotary Clubs.

Under their renewed focus, they sought to inspire students (rather than forcing compliance with the rules). They sought also to ensure that students were being provided with representative experiences and ambassadorial opportunities.

They created 3 tools to ensure that this would occur: the Exchange Student Creed, the Exchange Tree (seek to reach the legacy - or the fruits of the tree), and the "6 Be's" (what students are supposed to do, not what they are not allowed to do).

Since this overhaul, the Committee has seen incredibly positive results. They have observed much less blatent breaking of the rules by the students. The students' counselors seem more comfortable because they are given a better defined game plan for what they are supposed to do for the students. The students are open to more opportunities to enrich their exchange experience because they seek them out. Lastly, the participants seem to create better relationships with everyone they meet during their exchange year.

Darren encourages all Rotarians to leave a positive impression on the students - take the initiative to introduce yourself and shake their hand, give them an experience, and invite them to your place of business. Thanks Darren, you have inspired us all.