Cody Schaeffer at the airport as he says goodbye to his German host family for his 2016/2017 Rotary exchange. (Submitted)

Rotary international exchange opens to Prince Rupert students

Cody Schaeffer, a former exchange student, reflects on his one year exchange in Germany

Many dream of travelling the world, and the Prince Rupert Rotary Club offers high school students a chance to make that dream a reality.

Students between 15 and 18 years old have flown from Prince Rupert to Brazil, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany and France to immerse themselves in a new culture, and applications are now open to the 90 countries that have an arrangement with the Rotary Club.

“I would do it again in a heartbeat,” said Cody Schaeffer, a former exchange student. “There’s no doubt about it, I’d love to go back and see my host families again. I wish I could experience it all over again.”

When Schaeffer was 17, he embarked on a year-long exchange to Germany. He’d met some German people in Prince Rupert and quickly became friends with them. They inspired him to start looking into an exchange, and he reached out to former Rotary students.

There are two types of exchanges offered through Rotary: a three-week stint or an 11-month journey. The short-term trip is usually in the summer, then the student returns to Canada with a student from the host family they stayed with, as it’s their turn to play host. For the longer exchange, students enroll in school in their host country for an entire year. All host families are screened by the Rotary Club.

READ MORE: Heart of Our City — Rotary president is expanding horizons

“I was thinking, ‘I want to do that. I want to go, explore, experience the world. Do something different, get out of my comfort zone,’” Schaeffer said a year after his exchange. “For me, to get away and have that responsibility, that experience and that change of life was what I wanted.”

While it was difficult at first, making some friends made all the difference. It took all of a month for Schaeffer’s German to improve drastically, since he was surrounded by the language.

“It made me have a lot more confidence, and made me feel better about myself,” he said.

The best part of his exchange was a tour of 10 European countries in the span of 15 days with 55 other students. Their travels included the Netherlands, France and Belgium. It was particularly special for Schaeffer, since it was his first trip to Europe.

While the exchange can be expensive and Schaeffer had to stay in high school longer to complete his requirements for Grade 12, he said it was all worth it. Students can try to schedule requirements a year in advance so they don’t need to be held back. As for the price, Schaeffer said, “The one year of high school is definitely worth a lifetime of memories.”

For more information on how to apply for the summer of 2019 or the 2019/2020 school year, contact Bob Killbery at bbkillbery@citywest.ca or pick up an application at the Charles Hays Secondary School office. All students currently in Grades 9 to 11 can apply.

“My advice would be just say yes, go for it. Don’t hesitate to do it,” Schaeffer said.

READ MORE: The origins of the Prince Rupert Rotary auction



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