Canada Exchange

Canadian Exchange - the history!

Posted by Melanie Douglas on Jun 22, 2014


RCNS and the Rotary Club of Welshpool are twinned clubs...brought together by common Rotary interests. For 17 years they have provided an exchange program for high school students from both Norfolk County and Welshpool High School. Over these years more than 300 students from both sides of the Atlantic have enjoyed the opportunities, and for some, it has opened horizons beyond their expectations.

How did this get started? Last night a few Rotarians met the person whose idea got this ball rolling. Patrick Lewis and his wife Dilys are visiting family in Port Dover and were joined for dinner at the Erie Beach by Melanie and David Douglas, Bill and Marge Clevette ( and Marge's sister Sarah), Marjorie and Jim Dawson, Barb Tanner-Billings and Patrick's cousins John and Elizabeth Blakemore, residents of Port Dover.

In 1995, Pat discussed an exchange with his cousin John. Pat found some Welshpool students and John rallied some friends and family. An informal exchange took place. It needed to be more formal and enduring, so in 1996 David Douglas was asked by RCNS to liaise wit Pat to make the exchange more organized. Dave and Pat reminisced last night about how, in the early days, letters were sent, long distance phone calls were made and somehow the exchange took off. Today the exchange is all organized electronically, making decisions and messages immediate.

The exchange on both parts has been an ongoing, organic process, always changing to meet the needs of the students and the clubs. Last night was an opportunity to celebrate the successes of this unique program and to look to the future to see how we can continue to attract students and grow the program to bring it to more students.

It was evident from last night's conversation that this  program is successful because of the hard work and devotion of Rotarians on both sides of the pond. Meeting Pat and sharing stories and ideas served to make the commitment to continue stronger. This  year RCNS will welcome 8 students from Welshpool in October and we will return in March with 8 Norfolk students. Barb Tanner-Billings and Kristina Kett will be the chaperones. Another great year is underway!


Safe Travels home Pat and Dilys. Greetings from Rotary Club of Norfolk Sunrise go with you.