A life changing experience

Youth exchange experiences change lives
By Lori Ruhlman
Skaneateles Rotary

They went to three different parts of the world and had very different experiences, but the three Skaneateles youth exchange students who returned to share their stories with the Rotary Club had much in common.

Sarah Euto, Gianna Eidel and Cole Goodchild each exuded confidence, joy and wisdom when talking about their new “second homes” of Austria, Japan and Taiwan.

The enthusiasm and joy they expressed seemed to come from the friendships they made that will last a lifetime. They were filled with love for people in their host countries and for the other exchange students they met from around the world.

The wisdom and confidence came from facing some of the most difficult challenges of their young lives, and surviving – even thriving.

Goodchild shared that being placed in a part of Taiwan where almost no one spoke English made his exchange very difficult.

And that challenge is what made his year so meaningful and important.  With his second host family in particular, the living conditions were so humble that at first he didn’t know if he could remain.

There was no running water in the house.

Having a shower meant using a bucket.  He had to wash his own clothes by hand – a process that took several hours each time.

But then he considered his eight year old brother, who was mature, healthy and self-sufficient. He decided he might learn lessons from this boy.

“I stayed.  And I learned more than you can ever imagine from an eight year old boy,” he said in a voice nearly choked with respect and admiration.

Living with his second family, he said, “gave me the opportunity to experience Taiwanese life as a native, and forced me – or allowed me – to go outside my comfort zone.” (Rotary Youth Exchange students typically have three host families).

Euto experienced different hardships that caused her to grow while in Austria, she said.

After switching from one host family to another, she came to know an extended family that she will always know and love as her own. She skied in the Austrian Alps and traveled throughout Europe, visiting Vienna, Prague, Berlin and Venice.

A highlight, she said, was when her American family visited.

Laughing and talking with her host family and her American family during a big Easter dinner, she was overwhelmed.

“These are my two worlds colliding in the best of ways,” she said. “My heart was so full.  I thought, ‘this is what Rotary Youth Exchange is about.”

Eidel said she decided to apply for Rotary after doing a research paper on “gap years” during her junior year in high school.

She was surprised her senior year when Rotary assigned her to Japan.

It hadn’t been one of her choices, or even on her radar. She had hoped for a placement in Switzerland, for example, she said.

“I wasn’t happy, but I knew later it would be good for me,” Eidel said.

Initially in Japan, she was “in major culture shock.”

As the year went on, and she extended herself in many ways, had rich experiences and bonded with friends and family.

She said she also “fell in love with their fashion.”

As a result, she reapplied to colleges (from Japan, with help from her American parents) and will head to FIT in the fall – a change in the course of her career and life.

“Japan wasn’t something I wanted,” she said, “but it was something I needed.”

All three of the students thanked Rotary for the priceless experiences and for the rich ways that Rotary will continue to shape their lives.

Rotarian Bill Conole thanked Gard Lorey, youth exchange officer for the Skaneateles Rotary Club, and other Rotarians who help make it possible for Skaneateles students to go abroad and for students from around the world to come and enrich the local schools and community.  Skaneateles, he said, has been a flagship program for Rotary District 7130, which sends a total of 20-35 students from CNY abroad each year (and welcomes that many in return).  Host families make it happen.

This August, Skaneateles will welcome a girl from Mexico and a boy from Switzerland.  In exchange, Eva Lombardi will head to Taiwan and Shane Rutledge will go to Belguim. To be a host family, contact the local Rotary Club.

Camillus middle schoolers clean up the Erie Canal

The Camillus Middle School Interact Club spent the day providing service to our community by cleaning a portion of the Camillus Erie Canal Park.

The purpose of Interact is to provide opportunity for young people to work together in a world fellowship dedicated to service and international understanding.

The Camillus is club is co-sponsored by the West Genesee Central School District and the Rotary Club of Camillus Solvay Geddes.

Advisor Stephanie Murphy organized the day with guidance from the park’s caretakers Dave and Liz Beebe.

Rotary Club President and West Genesee Assistant Superintendent Brian Kesel praised the work of Murphy and the students. “Mrs. Murphy has built this Club from the ground up. She has a dedicated core of students that desire to provide service to the community. We are in good hands with these future leaders.”

 Jun 17, 2019    Eagle ObserverNewsNewsPress-ObserverSkaneateles Press

CSG Rotary Helps Build Bunk Beds for Children Without a Place to Sleep

On Saturday June 8, we had an incredible experience with the West Genesee High School Tech Club, the Woodturners of CNY, and the Syracuse Chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace as we built 10 sets of bunk beds for children in the Syracuse area who do not have beds of their own. Your generous funding of the Rotary Club of Camillus Solvay Geddes will in turn provide all the mattresses, bedding, and pillows for these 20 new beds.

Guest Speaker Update: Re-done Butterfly Garden re-dedicated for the season

A Garden of Hope was just a dream at Hope for Bereaved’s board meetings 27 years ago—the dream became a reality thanks to Founder/leader Therese Schoeneck’s vision, Nursery/Landscaper Jim Sollecito, and my efforts at getting Onondaga County on board with the project (I was on Hope’s Board)

Today’s re-dedication, a Memorial Day noontime tradition, included Jim Sollecito’s update on the re-shaping and revitalization of garden plantings, as well as a new hydrangea garden dedicated in memory of his late daughter. I was recognized as one of the ‘founders’ and shared the story of the garden’s creation:

We liked the site along the Onondaga Lake Parkway, because a county master plan included building a bike bridge over the road at that point, to like the bicycle path from Northern Lights to a route that would eventually circle Onondaga Lake.
We created the original garden in the shape of a butterfly, expecting that it would be visible from the bridge, and would remind all of Hope for Bereaved’s symbol of hope.

As we know, the bridge was not, and probably will not be built. But, the garden is thriving, and growing, as a place for bereaved whose loved ones have passed away out of the area (the original purpose), and now as a place for reflection, and for many to come make lasting new memories: we continue to host weddings, prom picture taking and other occasions.

As Jim Sollecito says, it’s turned into a premier public garden in the Syracuse area.

Article by Laura Hand – CNY Central

Upcoming Service Opportunities

We have a few service opportunities on the horizon and we need as much help as possible.

Please join us at the Erie Canal Park on May 30th to help our Camillus Middle School students clean the park! We will be there from 10:15 – 2:00pm. Bring gloves!

Next, we have a date for a joint service project with West Genesee students. Saturday, June 8th we are organizing a build for Sleep in Heavenly Peace. We will build up to 10 sets of bunk beds for children in CNY who don’t have a bed of their own. This will take place at West Genesee High School from 8:30am-12pm.

Also, save Tuesday, July 2nd for a trip to prepare and serve meals at the Samaritan Center. Details to follow.

Thank you!

President Brian Kesel

CSG Guest Speaker Rich Synek in the News

Veterans were able to stock up on free food and other items at the Syracuse Vet Center Thursday morning thanks to ‘Feed Our Vets’, a group dedicated to giving back to veterans.

The group provides free food to more than 25,000 veterans and their family members, adding up to more than 1 million pounds of food.

“We’re here to eliminate veteran hunger by one week every month. Free food every month is our way of saying thank you, you’re not forgotten,” Rich Synek, founder of Feed Our Vets, said.

The group was started in 2004, and now helps feed veterans in 39 states. Feed Our Vets comes to the Syracuse Vet Center once a month.

“This is very important. The vet center, it helps us out in multiple ways. Not even just the food – but being able to sit down and talk to somebody who has been through something,” said Edwin Wynn, a veteran.

In addition to hosting Feed Our Vets once a month, the Syracuse Vet Center also offers free counseling and legal services to veterans.

You can check out more info on Feed Our Vets here