Jean Bancroft of Fonthill, an exchange student to Sweden, 35 years ago, shared her experience with us this morning. Jean ended up staying in Nykjøping, near Stockholm,  when at the age of 16.   Noone spoke English in her exchange family home, so Jean had to struggle with both language and homesickness problems.  She arrived at a home that was not used to having a girl, and the regulations in those days were such that you were not allowed contact with your parents for the first three months. This meant you had to grow up fast, and overcome any problems you might have

The host was an Olympian, so it helped that Jean had a keen interest in canoeing and biking.   Being an Olympian, the host was known to the King of Sweden...

 As usual, exchange students had contacts with other exchange students, and at one point Jean held a gathering in her room, where they put together a list of things they would like to do and see before leaving Sweden.   One of those items was: they would like to meet the King of Sweden.   The rest of the list didn't appear to be a problem to arrange, but to meet with the King of Sweden was another matter.  Never mind, a letter was sent to his Majesty, and lo and behold, the King and his young wife Silvia, (newly married) invited them all for a visit to the Castle. 

Jean was in Interact in her high school days, and later joined Ryla.   She has nothing but praise for the Youth Exchange Program.  It helps young people mature with a healthy interest in humanity.  Jean has since hosted a girl from Tailand, and states it was a wonderful experience, giving back.   Jean keeps in contact with this girl, who now has become a lawyer, working with a Not For Profit organization, and setting up 'fundraising programs' which does not appear to exist in Tailand.

Youth Exchange can be a wonderful experience, but it can also be a total failure, ending with a student being sent home.   In Jean's case, it was a fantastic experience, both as an outgoing student, and hosting.