Algarve students given wings to fly
Rotary Summer Camp Scheme
In 2008, Almancil International Rotary Club (AIRC) joined, for the first time, with other Portuguese Rotary clubs in sponsoring young students to participate in the Rotary Summer Camp Scheme. The camps are organised by Rotary clubs all over the world, with the aim of introducing young students to their counterparts from different countries and cultures.
In that first year, AIRC sponsored two students to attend a camp in Manchester in the UK. Since then, the number of applications has grown exponentially.
This year, AIRC Rotarians Dr Raymond Parfait and Patricia Doling, together with Lurdes Seidenstricker of Dra Laura Ayres School in Quarteira, had the unenviable task of interviewing 22 students, from which 18 were chosen to spend two weeks at camps in the UK, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, India, Italy and Slovakia. The total number of students attending for the whole of Portugal was 27.
Last week at a special dinner at the Conrad Algarve Hotel in Quinta do Lago, some of these students gave presentations to Rotarians, guests and family members. Each of them commented on the special time spent with fellow students and their families and learning so much about the cultures of the country they visited.
For some, it was their first time away from home and there were many challenges to overcome, such as finding their way around airports and then flying alone. It was clear from their presentations that whilst the journey was at times difficult, the adventure and friendships they made were well worth it.
Exchanges are not restricted to students. In February, six members and friends of AIRC spent three weeks in India as guests of Bhanu Gupta, Youth Exchange Officer of Rotary District 3054, where they too were able to explore the culture, meet the people and visit places of outstanding beauty and interest.
“Our club has organised a number of fundraising events to enable us to finance some of these students,” said club President Brian Giles. “Watching the presentations and listening to the students’ reports made me feel very proud of the club and the students who represented their school and their country. It’s a scheme we hope to continue to participate in for many more years.”
Photo: Raymond Parfait, Brian Giles, Patricia Doling, Lurdes Seidenstricker, Conceição Bernardes and the students