Skip to content

Rotary exchange student presentation a highlight of District 5550 conference

Seven Rotary exchange participants living throughout District 5550 speak toward experiences and offer a bit of entertainment during Saturday afternoon schedule

MOOSEJAWTODAY.COM -- it’s become a traditional highlight of the Rotary District 5550 Conference every year.

Participants in the event are joined by Rotary Youth Exchange students from all over the District, getting a chance to hear some of their stories and enjoy a bit of fun entertainment in the process.

The 2024 event this past weekend was no exception, as all seven exchange students from throughout the District were in Moose Jaw on Saturday afternoon, offering fun and heartwarming tales of their experiences in Canada.

The current crop of exchange students come from all over the world and are stationed throughout the district, including Elis Fantin, who hails from a community just outside of Sao Paolo, Brazil and is currently living in Flin Flon, Man.

“It’s pretty cool to be a part of,” Fantin said. “This is actually my second exchange, I did another short-term exchange 45 days, so when had I had a chance for another one I really wanted to do it. It’s pretty nice with the reception in Canada, you make really good friends, so I really like it.”

Several of the students spoke to the conference as part of their presentation. Annie Ynfante, who hails from Venezuela and is living in Melfort, talked about getting used to the weather and changes in the culture, while Norway product Theodor Kaafjord-Birkeland touched on the differences when it came to living in his host community of Sioux Lookout in northern Ontario.

Closer to home, Isaura ‘Isi’ Vandierendonck from Belgium talked about living in Assiniboia and playing basketball for the first time with her high school team in addition to the support her grandmother has given to herself and the exchange program over the years.

One thing that rang true throughout the whole presentation was how despite the differences in parts of the world, the whole experience was incredible from top to bottom.

“The weather is completely different, it’s a different language, and I really enjoying having a chance to live in a small town, like all the rest of us on exchange right now,” Fantin said. “Everyone is treating us really well and we’re having fun, and now I have friends who are almost family right now, friends I will never forget.”

That’s the biggest factor of all -- exchange students become a part of their host family and community, to the point that leaving to go back home is always difficult.

“This is a second home,” Fantin said. “It’s the best experience ever and if you have the opportunity, you should do it. You learn so much, and when you leave the exchange, you’re leaving home to go home. I have a few more months here and I’m already crying thinking about it, it means so much.

“So if you have a chance to do it, do it!”

Check out for more on the youth exchange program and how to become a part of it.

push icon
Be the first to read breaking stories. Enable push notifications on your device. Disable anytime.
No thanks