Local Rotarian Laura Gonzales Attends Rotary International Conference In Melbourne, Australia

Rotarian Laura Gonzales unveils the colorful scarf created for the Rotary International 2023-2024 with the theme Create Hope in the World.  Gonzales purchased the scarf in May during the Rotary International Convention in Melbourne, Australia. Photo by Linda Hull

Vice President
Rotary Club of Los Alamos

Los Alamos Rotarian Laura Gonzales, the Inbound Youth Exchange Placement chair for Rotary District 5520, spoke July 25 at the Los Alamos club meeting at Cottonwood on the Greens.  Gonzales, who has long held an interest in Rotary youth activities, was invited by Rotary International President Jennifer Jones to be a speaker at the 2023 Youth Exchange Officers Preconvention in Melbourne, Australia at the end of May. 

Gonzales was asked to share her stories, exchange ideas, and help others Imagine Rotary, the 2022-2023 Rotary theme, through Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) in a session entitled Rotary Youth Exchange as a Project!

Gonzales’s invitation provided a tremendous opportunity to showcase the Los Alamos club’s long history of RYE support, starting many years ago with Chuck Tallman and followed by Rob and Melissa Metcalf, and other members of our Club and community, who have all helped build a foundation for the Club’s success in RYE.  

Gonzales, who has served as Club President and in many other Board positions, has also just accepted the role of District 5520 Assistant Governor, North region, recently held by Tom Simon of Santa Fe.                                             

While in Australia, Gonzales and husband Rey were also able to travel to Sydney, the bustling capital of New South Wales, to Uluru (formerly Ayres Rock) in the Northwestern Territory, and into the rainforests of Kuranda in Queensland.

As Gonzales and other Rotarians will attest, Rotary Youth Exchange “builds peace one person at a time.”  Students ages 15-19 are sponsored by Rotary Clubs in more the 100 countries and are given the opportunity not only to learn a new language, but to discover another culture and “truly become global citizens.”  Students also learn leadership skills and build lasting friendships with other young people. 

Exchanges last a full academic year with students attending local schools and living with several host families.  Rotary provides room and board and school fees.  Rotary Youth Exchange is one of the most highly regarded student exchange programs in the world based upon its dedication to detail and student safety.

In the 2022-23 school year, the Rotary Club of Los Alamos sponsored four students abroad to Japan, Finland, Germany, and France and welcomed two students from Taiwan and Germany.
This academic year, the Club is pleased to sponsor Annabelle Rosette in her studies in Huesca, a small town in northeast Spain near the French border, and to welcome Joan Guerrera, the Club’s inbound student from  Mallorca, one of Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean Sea.

Students and families interested in Rotary Youth Exchange are encouraged to contact 505-699-5880 or abqlaura@gmail.com

Applications for the 2024-2025 school year will be accepted through the end of September, 2023. Applications can be found at: RYE Application-Long Term 2023-07-11-reg.pdf – Google Drive

Applications to host an exchange student can be found at: HF-1_Host_Family_Application.pdf (scrye.org)