After returning home, many students miss their lives abroad. Rotex helps keep the international connections going.
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Riikka Muje had a fantastic time when she lived in Brittany, France, in 2011-12 as a Rotary Youth Exchange student. “At the beginning it was hard,” she recalls. “I didn’t speak the language. I didn’t know anyone. But then it’s amazing how you can form a life in another place.”

After her exchange, adjusting back to life in her hometown of Rovaniemi, Finland, was just as hard — until she joined a Rotex alumni association, Rotex for short. Rotex alumni associations are groups of Rotary Youth Exchange alumni who act as intermediaries between Rotarians and Youth Exchange students. They provide mentoring and organize events with exchange students in their home country as a way to give back and keep their international connections alive.

Now Muje is a fifth-year medical student at the University of Turku and president of Rotex Finland, which has more than 80 members across the country’s five districts.

Are Rotex clubs everywhere?

It depends on the area. In Germany, Taiwan, Brazil, and Finland, for example, Rotex is well established. There are other places where it is just getting started. And there are some countries where Rotex alumni associations have yet to be founded or chartered with Rotary International.

Rotex alumni associations have organized four international conventions in different host cities. We founded Rotex International four years ago to spread awareness about Rotex. We have five board members from different countries. And last year, Rotex International was chartered as a Rotary alumni association, which gave us official standing in the Rotary family.

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• This story originally appeared in the October 2020 issue of Rotary magazine.