International youth visit Franklin

Published 11:59 am Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Richard Gilbert
For the past 14 years the Franklin Lions Club has hosted a Lions District 24D Youth Exchange Program visit to Franklin. The Boykins and Windsor Lions Clubs have also co-hosted with Franklin for the last few years. Each summer the youth spend nearly a month in the U.S., and for the first 10 days are hosted by various families in the Tidewater area.

This year, Franklin Lions Club member Welton Deshields and his wife, Lottie, sponsored two guests, one from Denmark and one from Finland.

After visiting in the homes, this year’s 29 young people from 18 different countries gathered at a camp near Lurray for several days of fun and fellowship designed to provide a bonding experience. From there they went to Washington, D.C. for tours of several museums and to see a Washington Nationals baseball game. This was followed by a day at the 4-H Center in Wakefield and a Thursday evening visit to Franklin for dinner at Fred’s and an evening of fun at We Be Jammin’. Though they had many impressive experiences on their trip, many of these young people said Franklin was their favorite because of the hospitality, food, and fun in a small-town atmosphere.

The trip culminated at Virginia Wesleyan College where one of their activities is to prepare a talent show attended by many of the host families. After a brief second stay with their host families the youth return to their home countries with many lasting new friendships and a deeper understanding of their place in the world.

The Lions associated with the program feel enriched as well by their contact with these outstanding young men and women.