The Victor-Farmington Rotary Club recently continued a 38-year tradition by hosting exchange students from Greater Rochester and the Finger Lakes for a gala Christmas party at Ravenwood Golf Club in Victor.
Nineteen students from Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland participated in the party. Twelve 12 local students also attended, who are being sponsored by local Rotary clubs to depart this summer for a year abroad as exchange students in Brazil, India, Italy, Japan, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and Taiwan.
Rotarian Bruce Chapman served as master of ceremonies. Rotary District Gov.-elect David Hannan from Newark Rotary Club and Ross Cottone, president of Victor-Farmington Rotary, were on-hand to welcome students.
Five international students currently hosted by Rotary clubs in Ontario County participated in the festivities: Disha Dua, of India, from Geneva Rotary Club; Joaquin Ellena, of Argentina, from Victor-Farmington Rotary; Alvaro Fernandez-Escribano, of Spain, from Naples Rotary Club; Arianna Ferretti, of Italy, from Clifton Springs Rotary Club; and Zuzana Tabackova, of Slovakia, from Bloomfield Rotary Club.
Victor-Farmington Rotary recognized former District Gov. Mark Wyse, of the Ontario-Walworth Rotary Club, for his years of service to the youth exchange program. Rotarian Kim Yourch thanked Wyse for his commitment to the program.
After a buffet brunch, students sang “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” as Santa Claus entered the room. The international students gave individual holiday greetings in their native language, and outbound students practiced saying holiday greetings in the language of their soon-to-be host country. Each student met Santa and received a commemorative party T-shirt.
After the formal business was concluded, students decorated holiday cookies and danced to music by DJ Rob Groff from Neon Sound. Victor-Farmington Rotarians served as hosts for the exchange students, host parents, Rotarians and guests.
The Rotary Youth Exchange program originated in 1927 with the Rotary Club of Copenhagen, Denmark. The Rotary Club of Nice, France, became the second club to join the program in 1929.
The earlier programs were for a few weeks during vacation periods. In 1958, Rotary adopted the current 10-month format. The program averages 9,000 students each year as they study in approximately 80 countries.
Victor-Farmington Rotary has participated in the program since 1978.