Are you starting to think about what your children will do for the summer? The Santa Monica Lions Club has a suggestion — a trip to Europe, Israel, Brazil or Japan!

One of the many Lions Clubs International programs open to everyone, whether or not you are a Lion, is the Youth Exchange Program. It is open to all students between the ages of 15 and 21.

Since 1961 Lions Clubs have been sending as many students as possible around the world to experience another culture in the hopes of bringing about peaceful relations and a better understanding of other people. Students are not selected for their scholastic ability, but for their desire to learn about another culture.

Students are given the opportunity to live with a pre-screened host family for 4-5 weeks to experience a new culture, history and a different way of life. The ultimate goal is to have each participant upon returning home to share his or her experiences and promote international understanding.

The program starts at the end of June or beginning of July, depending on the requests of the different Youth Exchange Chairmen from the different countries, and ends the first week or two in August.

Trips to Japan are in a group of 25 students and last five weeks. Trips to Europe, Brazil and Israel are four weeks long and are for individuals, with two spots available for each of the following countries: Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Israel, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. The two spots for Italy have already been filled.

The price of $2,700 includes round-trip airfare from LAX to your chosen destination, internal travel, travel/medical insurance, shirts, name badges (if going to Japan), backpacks, and MD-4 Youth Exchange pins and banners. Occasionally there may be additional charges for camps within your chosen country that are not included in the price of our program, but we can let you know that before you leave.

The filing deadline is March 31 and requires a $500 deposit with the application form. The balance is due April 30. Scholarships are available. For more information, to get an application or apply for a scholarship, go to www.studenttrips.org.

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