At the recent NAYEN (North American Youth Exchange Network) Conference hosted in Calgary, Alberta, the Rotary Youth Exchange Program of District 5020 was honoured with the Dr. Abe Kuttothara Award as the “outstanding Rotary Youth Exchange District in North America”.   The award is given annually to a District from Canada, the U.S., or Mexico that exemplifies the ideals of Rotary Youth Exchange fostered by a North American Youth Exchange Network pioneer, Dr. Abe Kuttothara.

In accepting the award on behalf of District 5020, District Chair Craig Gillis acknowledged the tremendous ‘team’ effort of the District 5020 Youth Exchange Committee, a group of dedicated volunteers who give tirelessly of their time and talents to provide a remarkable opportunity for students who immerse themselves in the world of youth exchange.  “We view our students as peace ambassadors, individuals who have are able to transform our world through understanding and acceptance, bringing us closer to global peace one student at a time”.  


In presenting the award Sofia Sotomayor, Chair of RYE District 4100 in Mexico, noted the award acknowledges the longevity of the District 5020 program, its exceptional training for both inbound and outbound students, its efforts to create opportunities for both long term and short term exchanges, its blend of U.S. and Canadian clubs and its commitment to innovative programs that support and encourage a successful exchange year for all participants.   Recently all inbound students attended the five day Comox Rendezvous, a series of winter activities sponsored by the four Rotary clubs in the Comox Valley.   It is also noteworthy that several members of the committee provide leadership beyond the district level.  


District 5020 is so proud of the commitment of district Rotary clubs dedicated to sponsoring and hosting students year after year.   An amazing group of clubs annually welcome students to their club and give them experiences and opportunities they will carry with them for a lifetime.  That is at the heart of what truly makes this an ‘outstanding’ Rotary Youth Exchange District.   The District Committee wish to thank all of those Youth Exchange Officers, Counsellors, Youth Protection Officers and Rotarians who truly believe in this life changing program.