Rotary Youth Exchange
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Youth exchange began, for what is now District 6060, in 1985. District Governor H. Middleton asked Webster's Past Distrcit Govenor Alan Hoener to begin a district committee. Alan asked the Webster's club Jack LaBarge to serve on the committee, and to place the first student taken by the committee. Jack accepted, and the stiudent was placed in Webster Groves.


Webster Groves was the first host club for the district. Jack served on the committee from its inception. Steve LaBarge participated soon after the inception of the committee and initially assisted Howard Schwadron as inbound coordinator and then assumed that role until 1992. Alan chaired the committee until 1989. Jack LaBarge did outbound students from committee inception through June of 1992 and chaired the committee 1989 to 1992. Steve chaired from 1992 to 1994. Steve re-assumed the chairman position in the late 1990s. He was followed by Irene Kalnins in the early 2000s.


Since 1985 Webster Groves has hosted one or two exchange students every year (three students were hosted once), and have participated in the hosting of students on youth exchange tours. The Club has also sponsored many outbound students.


A fun fact of youth exchange is that two students who met through the district program, one from Webster Groves, subsequently married. Alan and Willie Hoener, Steve and Cathy LaBarge, and Mary and Jack LaBarge were all at their wedding. For 7 or 8 years, Mary and Jack LaBarge hosted a Christmas party at their house for exchange students. The boys spent the night at their house and the girls stayed at Steve and Cathy LaBarge's. Usually some outbound exchange alumni attended.


The Club has sent numerous American youth abroad as well as received many students from all over the world. The Club has received kids from Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Russia, Thailand, Brazil, Latvia, and Turkey in 2005-06, among others.


In 2001-02 the Club hosted a student from China and from Colombia. Both were the first students that came to Webster Groves without the Club sending a student to those countries. At the time, Rotary did not operate in China because of that country's political views. In Colombia the concern about safety and security prevents the Club from sending students. The Club accepted these non-traditional "exchanges" in the effort to help youth from these countries experience life in America.


In early 2000, the Club participated in short-term (two to three months in duration) exchanges for visually impaired and/or blind kids. This has been done in coordination with the Missouri School for the Blind. The initial exchanges were made with Argentina, but other countries may soon be involved.


Youth exchange has a great history in Webster Groves.