Steamboat Springs Reading books and watching movies can only teach so much about other cultures.
What really makes a difference - and what can't be taught in a classroom - is the experience of traveling and living in another country.
It's something the Steamboat Springs Rotary Club understands.
Local Rotarians are accepting applications for the 2008-09 Rotary Youth Exchange programs.
Rotary offers two such programs - a long-term exchange and a summer exchange - for students ages 15 to 19.
"Growing up, my family hosted exchange students and I saw the benefit of that in the cultural understanding and expanding of our views of the world," said local Rotarian Lynaia South, who is a Rotary Student Exchange committee member. "When they needed help with that committee, I knew it would be a good fit for me."
The Rotary Youth Exchange program selects applicants who perform well academically, are articulate, and demonstrate leadership in their communities, South said.
The long-term exchange program lasts for an entire school year. The chosen student will live with more than one host family - typically three different families for three months each - and attend high school in the foreign country.
The summer exchange program is between three and four weeks, and the student lives with a host brother and sister for the allotted time. In return, the student will welcome the host brother or sister into their home for three or four weeks.
"This is a great way to go overseas and spend some vacation time there," summer exchange program organizer John Pougiales said. "The ability to bring a friend back, to be an ambassador for the U.S., is quite special."
For the long-term exchange, the Rotary Club pays for room, board and offers a stipend each month. Students must buy their own plane ticket. There's also a $550 application fee.
During the summer exchange program, Rotary will help set up the host family for students. Once again, students will have to buy their own plane ticket. There's also a $100 application fee that may be refunded for the summer exchange program.
Applications for the long-term exchange program are due Oct. 4. Applications for the summer exchange are due Nov. 30.
Long-term applications can be picked up at local high schools or by calling South at 879-7600, ext. 3, or Donna Weinman at 879-3967. For applications or more information about the summer exchange, call Pougiales at 870-1508.