Rotary Youth Exchange students from Germany, Switzerland, Finland, France, Japan and Taiwan and Rotary Youth Exchange administrators were recently introduced to bird banding in Bandelier by Ranger Cassie Howell. Photo by Laura Gonzales
Rotary Youth Exchange students studying in District 5520 (New Mexico and West Texas) pause on a ladder in Bandelier during an orientation weekend Sept. 9 in Los Alamos. Photo by Laura Gonzales
By LINDA HULL
Rotary Club of Los Alamos
Kon’nichiwa, Bonjour, Hallo, Hei… are just a sample of the greetings Rotarians enjoyed on September 9 weekend as the Rotary Club of Los Alamos hosted six Rotary Youth Exchange students and four administrators from District 5520 (D5520) for the annual incoming orientation, which had been canceled in 2020 and 2021 due to COVID-related concerns. 19.
Outside guests representing the D5520 youth exchange program were Michelle Freschette (Rio Rancho), Lorraine Eight (El Paso), Gary Armijo (Albuquerque) and JP Cheney (Roswell).
D5520 Youth Exchange students include Tinja Untinen (Finland), Gianluca Hartmann (Switzerland), Serena Kaim (France) and Sakurako Kamitani (Japan). Students Olivia Hsieh (Taiwan) and Hannes Wiertzema (Germany) are staying at Los Alamos for the school year.
The event and its complicated logistics were coordinated by Rotarian Laura Gonzales, member of the Los Alamos club and president of D5520 Inbound Youth Exchange Placement. (Rotary District 5520 is the largest geographic district in the United States and encompasses all 69 clubs in New Mexico and West Texas.)
The weekend started early Friday morning with a bird banding session at Bandelier National Monument led by staff from the National Park Service, US Forest Service and Pajarito Environmental Education Center. Rotarian Bob Loy, certified bander, helped organize the outing. Ranger Cassie Howell guided the students, their host families and Youth Exchange Team Leaders through the gentle practice of capturing birds in taut nets and banding them to track data. Before they were released to fly free again, the birds’ weight, age, sex, body fat and other details were recorded. These data track the dispersal and migrations of birds, help determine their lifespan, reveal their behavior and social structure, and estimate the survival and reproductive rates of birds.
The students concluded their visit to Bandelier with a hike along the main trails with several explorations on ladders in the cave dwellings of the cliffs.
With the help of Rotarian Oliver Morris, Los Alamos County Deputy Chief of Police, the students spent the afternoon touring the police department with a special request for a photo shoot in a jail cell.
The day wouldn’t have been complete without a potluck dinner at Rotarians Elizabeth and Matt Allen, Pueblo Canyon Inn, and its beautiful outdoor setting.
Behind the scenes, helping with weekend activities, were local host families Rotarian Tim and Linda Bullock, Rotarian Oliver and Kateri Morris, and Rebecca Tredway and James Langenbrunner, whose son, Caleb, is an outgoing student. of Rotary who is now studying in France.
Rotarians Rob Metcalf, chair of the club’s youth committee, and Laura Loy, club’s incoming youth exchange coordinator, also offered to help. Rotarian Melissa Metcalf is responsible to the State Department for all SCRYE, Rotary’s South Central Youth Exchange. This vast region stretches from Montana to Texas, from Arizona to Tennessee. Metcalf takes care of the paperwork required for exchange students coming to this region, 123 this year alone, making D5520’s participation possible.
For more information about the Rotary Youth Exchange program, contact Laura Loy at 505.695.9666 or Linda Hull at 505.662.7950.
Rotary Youth Exchange students stopped at the county jail during their orientation weekend in early September in Los Alamos. Laura Gonzales, local Rotarian and director of the District 5520 incoming youth exchange program, poses with them. Photo by LAPD Deputy Chief and Rotarian Oliver Morris