WEST POINT – Exclaiming it "was a life changing experience," West Point High School student Hanna Capps visited the Rotary Club of West Point to share slides of her trip this summer to Switzerland and to thank the club for sponsoring her. Hanna completed the second part of a Rotary Youth Exchange experience, which began when Rahel Pfaffli from Lucerne, Switzerland visited Hanna and her family for three weeks this past summer. Hanna left West Point July 28th to visit Rahel and her family in Switzerland, returning on August 25th.
Hanna began by taking a walking tour of Lucerne, visiting churches, museums, and other tourist sites with Rahel and her friends. Hanna was particularly struck with the gothic architecture of this ancient city. Looking forward to a day on the river, Hanna was excited, she said, to be invited out on Rahel's grandfather's boat. Her enthusiasm was quelled a bit though when she arrived at the dock to find Rahel's grandfather's boat was a rowboat. Not to be deterred, Hanna took her position with the rest of the crew, pulling her oars like a North Sea veteran, although she almost fell overboard once.
In addition to swimming in the many crystal clear, but cold, lakes and rivers in Switzerland, Hanna had the opportunity to visit Switzerland's capital city of Bern. There she was able to visit more museums and churches, learning more about the culture of this old (but new for her) fascinating country.
Rotary Youth Exchange is open for students ages 15-19. To qualify, applicants should be above-average students who have demonstrated leadership in their community. Candidates should also possess qualities such as flexibility and a willingness to try new things that will enable them to fully experience life in another country and become excellent cultural ambassadors. All applicants must be sponsored by a local Rotary club and complete a written application and in-person interview. Costs vary depending on the district and country where the exchange occurs. Typically, students and their parents or guardians are expected to cover the following expenses: round-trip airfare, travel insurance that includes medical, accident, and illness coverage and meet the requirements of the host and sponsor clubs and districts, all travel documents, such as passports and visas, and spending money, ancillary travel, and tours. Exchanges can take place in more than 150 countries and geographical areas. Host families aren't compensated financially. The program is run entirely by dedicated volunteers, which helps keep costs low. If you are interested in being considered for Rotary Youth Exchange, you should call the Rotary Club of West Point's Youth Exchange contact Colleen Bonadonna at 843-4115.