The Rotary Youth Exchange students spent a busy weekend on the Kauwhata Marae near Feilding  where they were woven into the rich tapestry of Māori life.    
For the nine International inbound students from Sweden, Switzerland, Italy (3), France, Taiwan, Austria and Canada, the full immersion weekend provided them with many more perspectives of our wonderful country and culture.  These exchanges are not educational, vocational or leisure exchanges – they are cultural, so this weekend was perfect for developing their knowledge and understanding of our tangata whenua.
For our six outbound students, this is the last time they will be together and they were presented with their dress uniforms and business cards.  This, in effect, was their official send-off before they depart in early January next year for their destination countries of Germany, Sweden, Canada, Chile (2) and France.  
After settling in and getting all of the mattresses situated in just the right place the students familiarised themselves with the marae, kicked a ball around for a while and then off to the wharekai for lunch.  
After lunch the boys helped with the hangi pit and the girls helped in the kitchen preparing for dinner. The hangi was, as usual, scrumptious and as the hangi pit was not sectioned off, the girls got to see the men in action lighting the fire and raising the food this year.
In the afternoon we visited Kitchener Park and then it was off into Feilding to help out with the annual food drive. We carried, sorted, stacked ran the streets collecting food for the drive - a great community activity for all.
After dinner it was our host Clint’s favourite time.  Clint is of Scottish and Māori descent and he loves to ponder and answer the challenging, probing and sometimes uncomfortable questions posed by the students in this korero time. 
On Sunday we all learnt the haka and then it was the special time of the outbound students as their whanau were welcomed onto the marae to see them receive their dress uniforms.
This is what the RYE students exchange is all about – the merging of cultures, learning differing values, appreciating our history, and most of all – the weaving of people together. 
Lynne Phillips
D9940 Rotary Youth Exchange Committee Chair
P.S. - Applications are now open for 2020 Outbound students.