Over 30 years ago I was a beneficiary of Rotary’s Youth Exchange Student program.  As a 17 year old in the early ‘80’s I lived with my Canadian host family for one year and went to school in Canada.

That wonderful year helped give me the skills, confidence and experience that contributed to a successful business career in manufacturing and mining both in Australia and overseas.

I’ll be forever grateful to Rotary for affording me such a valuable life experience and increasing my international awareness and understanding towards viewing the world in a different way.

During my Rotary Exchange Student year I had 3 host parents and we have stayed in touch!  My last host parents have visited me in each of the countries I’ve lived in (except Australia).  They’ve not only visited me in Ottawa and London, but we’ve also met in various places in the US when I’ve been visiting. In fact they drove many hours to meet me recently in Nevada!

I’m part of the Rotary Speakers’ Bureau and have spoken at many Rotary Clubs around Melbourne.  My key objective in volunteering to speak to Clubs is to encourage them to continue to understand and support the Youth Exchange Student Program.

I’m proud to be speaking at the Rotary District Conference 9820 being held in Ballarat, March 2012.

All around us we see evidence of Rotary’s touch in our community – whether it be raising money for local or international charities; fostering and encouraging youth through exchange programs; or promoting goodwill between communities and countries through Rotary fellowship programs.

The common factor that binds these Rotary programs is the fact that they’re all tangible and they all make a difference. They can also be life changing; particularly to the lives of the individuals and the communities in which they operate.

Anita Roper

December 2011