Our Exchange Sons
Some of you may know Erik from the time he lived here in Phoenix 10 years ago. His last name is long, hyphenated and I can’t even pronounce it correctly, but I love this kid.
We just finished up an excellent celebration dinner with him and his wonderful family. Tomorrow, he graduates with a second master's in international business from the Stockholm Institute of Economics, which is one of the top five business schools in the world. My wife says he will soon be head of the IMF.
As family, we have been invited for the ceremony and the festivities here in Sweden. There is really nothing like the bond of Rotary Youth Exchange to unite families from disparate cultures and continents.
I first met Erik 10 years ago when he traveled with Elizabeth to our Mexico USA Friendship Conference in Cuernavaca. At the time, he seemed like a slightly spoiled kid from Scandinavia that was precocious, but not very cautious. What do you want from a 16-year-old? Since then, I have come to know him as a thoughtful, very intelligent and caring person, who really wants to make a difference in the world. He will make a great Rotarian.
And this year, as you know, we have Jose living with us. He is from Ecuador and attends Barry Goldwater High School. Jose has also quickly become an integral part of our family. He is a joyful and easy-going young man, who is quick to smile and always willing to help out around the house.
We have turned Jose into a massive Phoenix Suns fan and he has shared his passion for F1 racing with us, and has instilled in us a love for Ferrari, and a loathing for Red Bull.
Jose has been accepted to study marketing at ASU next year and is so grateful for his experience here in Arizona. Having come from Ambato, a very small town in central Ecuador, his experience has been overwhelming at times, but very instructive.
These life-enriching experiences with young people and families only happen because of the trust between Rotarians across the world that gives parents the confidence to send a child out on Youth Exchange. It is no small commitment to participate in youth exchange, but the rewards are incredible.
 Do you know a young person that would benefit from being immersed in a foreign culture? Would you be willing to open your family up for a new and different experience. Rotary Youth Exchange may be the thing for you. Let us know, if you have any interest.
Kevin Pitts
Rotary International District 5495 Governor