Joaquin Ellena Murature, an exchange student hosted by the Victor-Farmington Rotary Club, was selected to speak on behalf of all Rotary exchange students at the recent district conference in Pocono Manor, Pennsylvania.
He was selected by the district’s youth exchange committee for his commitment to the goals and objectives of the program during the current Rotary year. Murature, 17, currently attends Victor Senior High School and lives with his host family in Farmington. He is from a farming community in Argentina.
Nineteen exchange students from Argentina, Austria, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland were at the conference. Also in attendance were 13 students from the Finger Lakes who will leave this summer for a year abroad as exchange students. The weekend conference allowed them to interact with international students, many of whom are from countries where they will live.
Victor-Farmington Rotary has participated in the youth exchange program since 1978. Murature is the first student hosted by the club to be named a keynote speaker at the conference.
The exchange students entered the conference floor in the traditional Parade of Flags, led by Murature carrying the flag of Argentina. Each student carried the flag of their home country.
In his comments, Murature traced his personal experience as an exchange student arriving in Rochester last summer as a 16-year-old, coming to a country with a different language and culture. He was away from home for the first time in a land of strangers. He complimented the support Rotary provides the exchange students, particularly the support he received from his host families and fellow students at school.
“There are always cultural differences between the families and the students, but through the days a melting of cultures occurs that gives us the opportunity to learn from our host families’ culture,” he said. “I am sure that they have learned from ours as much as we did.”
After his address, Murature joined with exchange students Hilda Johannson (Sweden) and Manuela Buffo (Brazil) in presenting a piggy bank with $1,445 to District Gov. Mike Slovak. The money was raised by the students in a fundraising effort to support the work of the Rotary Foundation.
LaShondra Brown Delivuk, 28, president of the Lynchburg Morning Rotary Club in Virginia, spoke about youth and Rotary during a training assembly in San Diego. She stressed the need for making Rotary membership fun and of interest to all age groups as the organization pursues a goal of worldwide service to others.