Staff Report

The Rotary Club of Fishhawk-Riverview welcomes its first international student to visit its club. Ella Ahvenainen is 17 years of age from Finland, and will reside with a Rotarian host family for her one year visit here. She attends Bloomingdale High School where she is a member of the Bloomingdale Ladies Basketball Team. Ella said she loves it here. Her sister is here in the United States after receiving a full basketball scholarship at a northern based college in New York.

The Rotary Clubs of Hillsborough County announce that applications are now open for the prestigious Rotary Youth Exchange Florida Scholarships (RYEFL), valued over $20,000, for the 2016-17 school year. RYEFL places teens in over 30 countries worldwide. Students receive the scholarship, covering all overseas schooling, room and board, with an allowance each month. Because the program is completely staffed by volunteers and host families who are not paid, Rotary is able to make youth exchange accessible to teens of all economic and ethnic backgrounds.

According to Rotary President Duane Williams, “Living in a foreign country has a powerful effect on a child’s maturing process. Managing finances and making decisions influences independence. They develop confidence in speaking before groups, a tolerance toward different cultures, and develop language fluency, which makes them better equipped to handle college and often provides a focus on future accomplishments.”

The exchange is established through local Rotary clubs and its members, the local professional leaders of that community are directly involved in the welfare of these students. Students attend Rotary meetings and Club members offer counseling and support.

Annually, 1,800 U.S. students, ages 15 to 18 at departure, participate in this program; 75 are chosen from Florida. Youth ambassadors are selected based on interviews, courage, adaptability, school recommendations, grades, and interest in cultures and languages. Visit to learn about the District 6890 program. The student families are responsible for the costs to get the student to their placement country: an application fee, orientations, insurance, visa and airfare. Student applicants must register by Thursday, October 15 and complete registration by Sunday, November 1, for departure in August 2016.  For more information on the Rotary Club of Fishhawk-Riverview, contact Willliams at or 643-2156.

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