For 50th year, Rotary provides Okanagan experience for UBC international students

Every September since 1955, the Rotary Clubs of Vancouver South and Penticton have partnered with UBC’s International House to sponsor a trip to Penticton for 25 international students attending UBC.

This month, to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the annual Rotary Penticton trip, the clubs are doubling the number of UBC international students to experience the Okanagan – which means 50 students will visit Penticton from September 23 to 25. Five of this year’s participants attend UBC Okanagan.

“This trip is an opportunity for Canadian families to welcome international students to B.C., and a chance for the students to spend the weekend with their Rotarian host families and visit local attractions in the Okanagan Valley,” says Enzula Tavormina, Community Programmer with UBC’s International House. “The students are curious about Canada and eager to share their culture with Canadians.”

Many of the participants are scholarship students who have recently arrived in Canada to study at the undergraduate level, while others are on exchange, or in master's and doctoral programs.

“I hope to learn about Canadian culture, to get to see another area besides Vancouver. I am excited about being in Penticton,” says Nuria Plantalech, a student from Olot, Spain, pursuing a master’s degree in animal science at UBC.

Plantalech is looking forward to sharing Spanish and Catalan culture with her host family in Penticton. She also has a keen interest in a planned visit to a Kokanee spawning site, having recently participated in a salmon migration research project in the fjords of Norway as part of a bachelor’s degree in ocean sciences. “My master’s thesis is going to be about salmon,” says Plantalech.

UBC student Lily Liang observes that Canada is a very diverse country. “Its openness to ideas and respect for different cultures really amazed me,” says the first-year science student from Wuhan, China.

“I'd love to learn and understand Canadian culture by exchanging my own culture with the host family, and also learn from my peers from all over the world. I'd also love to build a life-long friendship with my host family and all the friends who are going on the trip with me,” she says.

“The insights provided about our world by the students can be quite remarkable,” Penticton Rotarian Rory McIvor observes.

Visiting students will see much of the South Okanagan during their weekend stay. McIvor says the itinerary for Saturday includes visits to the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory at White Lake, one of the Okanagan’s popular wineries, an Okanagan fruit stand, and a salmon spawning site at Antler’s Beach on Okanagan Lake.

The day will be capped off by a round-table discussion with UBC alumni about global citizenship, and a gala celebration hosted by the Penticton and South Vancouver Rotary Clubs.

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