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American River Messenger

German Rotary Student Enjoying Local High School Classes

Nov 02, 2022 12:00AM ● By By Thomas J. Sullivan

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - For students between 15 and 18.5-years-old who have wondered about living in another country, learning another language, or experiencing a new culture, applying for the Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) program provides an excellent opportunity to do so.

This year, members of the Citrus Heights Rotary club have welcomed one high school student from Germany.

Lea Park-Kim, communications and public engagement manager for the Citrus Heights Water District is the Rotary Club chair for the RYE program this year.

RYE is under the umbrella of Rotary International, a humanitarian service organization with a global network of 1.4 million members. RYE sends over 9,000 high school students on Rotary’s long-term and short-term exchange programs each year and has unmatched support for students, families, and host families, Park-Kim said

It is the policy of the Rotary Youth Exchange that the last name of the student studying abroad not be used, nor a photograph in publications for the safety of those students participating, Park-Kim said.

Theresa, who grew up just outside Bremen, Germany began her junior year at Del Campo High School in Fair Oaks on August 11. She took a lunch break from school to attend a recent Rotary Club luncheon where she was interviewed. She will live in the homes of three different families during the current school year.

“My older brother earned a Rotary Scholarship to study abroad several years ago and very much enjoyed the experience. I wanted to do the same,” Theresa said.

She said her own opportunity to participate in the Rotary Exchange Program had to wait until pandemic protocols were eventually lifted, and she was free to travel for overseas study.

Theresa said her first choice for overseas study was North America-Canada, followed by Portugal and then Japan.

“I highly recommend the program,” she said. She was excited to learn that she had been selected to study in the United States, and her school destination would be in northern California.

While she said she misses her family back home in Germany from time to time, Theresa said she’s able to keep in touch with many of her friends through social media telling them about her experiences in Citrus Heights, and the new friends she has made here. She said she has a supportive relationship with her host family here who have made her feel welcome.

“I keep in touch with my family back home by cell phone and by text,” she said.

“The opportunity to study in the United States has taught me to be more confident as I get to know people,” she said. In all, she’s taking four classes, Spanish I, Arts, English III and choir in the block schedule offered at Del Campo.

“I’ve had to adjust to a different kind of school schedule than I was used to in Germany,” she said. “Here, classes are more relaxed, and there were more electives to choose from.”

Like most of her peers, Theresa said she’s enjoying the plentiful choices for fast food around here, typically which are not as common where she grew up in Germany, popular music and the opportunity to follow school sports and spirit activities on campus at Del Campo.

Rotary scholarships valued at over $24,000 are available to cover room, board, tuition, and monthly stipend for the student typically enrolled in the program.

RYE is a two-way exchange between Rotary Districts. For the 2022-2023 school year, Rotary District 5180 sent five students from the Greater Sacramento area to Germany, Belgium, Italy, and Taiwan.

Local host families, including the families of the students that left for their exchange program, have welcomed seven students from Belgium, Germany, Denmark, Taiwan, and Italy. Students will stay with between 2 and 4 families and get an in-depth experience of the culture in their host country.

Students who are interested in learning more about participating in the exchange program during the 2023-2024 school year should contact the Citrus Heights Rotary Club’s Inbound and Outbound Counselor, Lea Park-Kim at [email protected] or at 916-891-7876. Interested applicants should visit for more information concerning specific application requirements.

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