Monday, December 11, 2023

Rotary exchange ‘changes lives’; Suzanna Bernd’s own lifelong link

By Cathy DeDe, Chronicle Managing Editor

Glens Falls Rotary Exchange Student Ceasar Kihlberg, from Sweden, on his arrival day with host parents George and Karin Green. Ceasar is a senior and cross country runner at Glens Falls High School. Selfie provided

Rotary Exchange invites students from the U.S. to stay with host families in other countries and for students from around the world to stay with host families and attend school in the Glens Falls region.

“Many members of the club were exchange students as young people,” says Club President Jennifer Brink.

“In recent years, our club has hosted students from Denmark, Argentina, France, and has sent local students to Australia, and to both European and South American countries.

“Rotary Youth Exchange changes lives,” says Rotarian Suzanna Bernd, who coordinates the Glens Falls program. “We’re working toward world peace and understanding one wave at a time, as each student creates a wave.”

Glens Falls is currently sponsoring Ceasar Kihlberg, from Sweden, who is living with host family George and Karin Green. A senior at Glens Falls High School who runs on the Cross Country team, Ceasar plans to be here for the full 2022-23 academic year.

Ms. Bernd says, “I was a Rotary Exchange Student to Bad Duerkheim, Germany — West Germany at the time — for the 1982-1983 academic year, sponsored by the Colonie-Guilderland Rotary Club.

“I remain friends to this day with my best friend from that year. His first name is the same as my last name.

“We are both married and have children. Our families have vacationed together all over the world, including the North Sea, Greece, and Florida. Our kids are good friends with each other. His eldest daughter was also an exchange student through Rotary and lived in Quebec. She visited us during her exchange.”

The Glens Falls Club traditionally hosts two students each year, one at Glens Falls, one at Queensbury High Schools, Ms. Bernd said.

“We’re ramping back up starting with one, post-Covid. We also sponsor local students to be exchange students to other countries.”

She said, “We are actively looking for high school students who are interested in being outbound exchange students to other countries in 2023, for the academic-year ‘long term’ or short-term summer exchange.

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Ceasar’s host parents, the Greens, also hosted a student from Spain, several years ago. They remain in touch with Javi to this day.

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