By Pam Harrison, District 7810 Rotary Friendship Exchange Chair, Canada
I had the great joy of leading a Rotary Friendship Exchange to Brazil (in the new District 4751) from my District 7810 in Canada. We were greeted by our hosts at the airport and from there it was non-stop fun with our fellow Rotary members.
During our two weeks in Brazil, we visited ten clubs and enjoyed staying in Vitória, Cachoeiro and Aracruz. We visited schools, hospitals, historic sites, festivals, beaches and industrial sites. We saw the impact Rotary projects have in the region by making a better world for children, mothers and the underprivileged. The music, food, friendship and parties made a wonderful lasting impression. I must say it was the best two weeks of my Rotary year.
We used technology to communicate with our fellow Rotary members. By using Google Translate, we were able to overcome the language barrier, because none of us Canadians spoke Portuguese. The Rotary members from Brazil would speak into their phones and we heard what they were saying in English. We would then answer and they heard what we were saying in Portuguese. Our group was also accompanied by an English-speaking member as our tour leader.
We also met three Rotary Youth Exchange students from Mexico, Germany and Belgium and spent a day touring with these interesting young men who said the youth exchange was the best year of their life. I was impressed by the intentional effort by Rotary members in Brazil to bring youth to meetings and involve them in Rotary life. These clubs are building their future membership. Every party, every group event, all tours and some meetings involved youth.
This was the first Rotary Friendship Exchange the Brazil district had been involved with and we agreed it was life changing for everyone involved. There will be many more exchanges between the two districts. We look forward to hosting our friends from Brazil in Canada in September.
Rotary Friendship Exchanges are a great way to broaden international understanding, explore a profession or job in a different context, build enduring friendships, establish a foundation for peace and service, gain opportunities for active project involvement and support, learn about a region’s people, food, languages, customs, and history, and find partners for projects and grants. Explore the Exchange Finder Map to view current exchange locations and the districts that serve them. Connect with the district’s Rotary Friendship Exchange chair for help finding potential international hosts and planning your itinerary.