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Rotary taking apps for exchange program

Calling all young professionals interested in a free trip to Finland -- Rotary has your ticket.

Next year's Rotary Group Study Exchange program is headed to Finland April 21-May 21. It is open to professionals age 25-40 who are employed full time and would like to learn more about Finland and their chosen career in that country. Applicants cannot be Rotary members.

Earlier this spring, Ashley Drewes was chosen through the exchange program to spend a month in Tasmania, Australia.

"It was an incredible experience, a once in a lifetime opportunity," she said. "I had such a great experience and I encourage young professionals to take the opportunity as well."

Airfare, food and lodging for the trip are covered by Rotary. Those chosen from this Rotary district are housed with Rotary members in Finland.

While there, they spend time learning about their line of work in Finland and how it differs from in the United States.

Drewes said that during her time in Tasmania, it was a time to improve upon leadership skills, confidence, talking to people you normally wouldn't and learning about the culture there while getting to educate the Australians about culture in the United States.

While there, participants will also give presentations regarding life in the United States. Once back, they will be expected to share with Rotary clubs about their experience abroad.

Participants in next spring's exchange will be spending time in the northern region of Finland, referred to as "The District of Santa Claus." The land encompasses lakes, dense forests and scenic vistas.

The purpose of the trip, besides the individual benefits, is to promote international goodwill and understanding.

Those interested are encouraged to fill out an application. Participants will be interviewed and chosen for the trip several months in advance. All who are chosen will then meet several times in preparation for the journey.

Drewes said that while a month can sound like a long time to be away from work and family, in a lifetime, a month is nothing.

For those thinking about applying, "just do it. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain," she said.

Those interested in applying can reach Drewes at or at 218-841-8502 with any questions.

Or go to Rotary's site at

The application deadline for Finland is Aug. 31.

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.