Glenda reported that the ABC had done an article about Rotary Youth Exchange students 'stuck' because of COVID-19.
One of the students that they have interviewed was Yoqub Davlotov, from Tajikistan. Glenda recalls receiving a phone call from Tasmanian Rotarian Felicity Gifford, asking if our club could meet Yoqub at Melbourne Airport and guide him to his flight to Tasmania, as the person who was to do this had a family emergency.
Yoqub was due to fly home to Tajikistan on the 25th of July 2020 - it was in Glenda’s calendar! He may still be in Tasmania due to COVID-19 and low international travel options.
The coronavirus pandemic is testing the resilience of young people on student exchange in Australia and abroad. Rotary's Youth Exchange Program (YEP) sends, on average, 150 teenagers overseas each year and hosts a similar number of foreign students.
The global health crisis has seen 80 of the current contingent return home to Australia or overseas. Some say they are glad to be home, while others are resisting a premature end to their exchange. 'I feel like a Tasmanian' Yoqub Davlatov's student exchange to Australia was his first overseas trip.(Supplied) Tajikistan is home for Yoqub Davlatov, who had been soaking up the Tasmanian way of life for the past 11 months. Unlike other Rotary exchanges, the plan to have the 17-year-old visit Australia was hatched between Rotarian Felicity Gifford and Yoqub's family a few years ago when Ms Gifford volunteered in the Central Asian nation. Yoqub said the support of Ms Gifford and her family, as well as his Tasmanian friends, helped him enjoy his first trip overseas. "It felt very strange but I got used to it, and now I feel like I'm one of these people. They treat me like I'm living there," he said. "It's really good to feel like a Tasmanian person. "Yoqub Davlatov has developed a love of bushwalking since arriving in Australia.(Supplied)
The biggest challenge for Yoqub and Ms Gifford was finding a way for him to return home, with few routes available to Tajikistan. "[The exchange has been] worthwhile because the opportunities he's had have changed his life," she said.
'I'm safer here' Fifteen-year-old Sofia Seneme is on a year's exchange in Wagga Wagga in south-western New South Wales. She said it had been difficult to watch her country of Brazil become one of the world's coronavirus hotspots. Sofia Seneme says she feels safer living in Australia than back in Brazil at the moment.(ABC Riverina: Mollie Gorman)
"I worry about my family. My city is the worst city [with coronavirus] in the region.
"My family were happy for me to stay. They feel I am safer here."
Sofia's choice to remain in Wagga Wagga was mostly because of her love for the region's natural beauty and the friendships she had forged.