Ross Redmond Youth Exchange A Huge Success


RRSTYP Kids Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge


RRSTYP Kids in the Surf

I want to take this opportunity to thank the host families and Rotary clubs who helped made the Ross Redmond Youth Exchange program a huge success again this year.
Thirty-nine host families took a week out of their lives and opened their homes to twenty-seven students and three leaders from Shikoku, Japan during the first three weeks of August.  In return for providing meals, accommodations, activities and care, these families got the opportunity to learn about Japanese culture, develop new friendships, and make a positive difference in the lives of these young people.  I can't thank these hosts enough for their huge contribution to this program.
This year we were also blessed by great support from our Rotary clubs.  Sixteen clubs from our district lent a hand to make the stay a memorable one.  On the first day Madison taught them how to make pizza, then the Lake Hopatcong Club took them for a motor boat ride on the lake.  Roxbury sponsored the welcoming party at Horseshoe Lake.  Phillipsburg and Washington sponsored a day at Dorney Park, a tour of the Martin Guitar factory and miniature golf. They also experienced whitewater rafting on the Delaware River thanks to the Belvidere Club. 
On Friday, August 5, it was off to New York.  The Jefferson Club, with help from Parsippany, Denville Sunrise and Pequannock Valley, sponsored a tour of the UN, lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and ice cream in Central Park. 
The Caldwell Rotary Club sent the group back into New York on Monday August 8.  This time they walked across the Brooklyn Bridge, ate lunch in Dumbo at Shake Shack and then visited the American Museum of Natural History. 
On Tuesday, August 9, the Newark Club took the group to the Basilica of the Sacred Heart for a tour of the Cathedral and an incredible organ demonstration.  Several of the students who play piano had a chance to try their skills on this exceptional instrument.  The club then hosted the students at their Rotary meeting for lunch and a tour of radio station WBGO. 
The Livingston Sunrise and Nutley clubs took the group to Point Pleasant Beach where students got to jump the waves and eat lunch and ice cream on the boardwalk.  That evening the group was treated to a dinner show at Medieval Times by Randolph Rotarian Bill Hepplewhite, a long time host and generous supporter of the program.  The West Orange Club sponsored a tour of the Edison Museum and lunch at their club meeting on Friday, August 12.   
After a great weekend with their host families, the students went back to New York Monday morning, August 15.  This time the Randolph Club sponsored a trip to the 911 Memorial which included a ride to the top of World Trade 1 (The Freedom Tower).  After lunch overlooking New York Harbor, the group went on a cruise to visit Miss Liberty.  The involvement of these sixteen Rotary clubs in this year's program was outstanding.   
Our exchange ended with the Farewell Party at Hanover Manor which was spectacular.  Thirteen American exchange students came to support their new friends. The students from Japan stole the show, however. They provided the entertainment featuring song and dance; rugby; a tea ceremony; calligraphy; flute, guitar, trumpet and keyboard solos; and a bamboo pinwheel demonstration.
This Rotary Exchange, which fosters international understanding and helps promote peace, has been going on for 38 years. Since its inception thousands of students from both countries have taken part. Without the host families and the support of our Rotary clubs this cultural exchange would not continue. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! 
Postscript – We are always looking for more help. The students experienced many adventures this year that were not sponsored by clubs. These included: the trip to Philadelphia to visit to the Liberty Bell and Constitution Center and eat a cheese steak; dragon boat racing on Lake Parsippany; several ice cream stops; and, the highlight of the trip, a visit to Yankee Stadium. Clubs could also help sponsor the Farewell Party or bus transportation.  If you are interested in supporting one of these activities in the future, contact me at