Thank you to the's Anita Prentice for submitting this information.
Trent Shillingford very successfully completed his ninth grade year at Peekskill High School in June, but he will not be returning there this fall. Instead, Trent boarded an airplane on August 15 for the faraway destination of Pune (formerly Poona), the seventh largest city in India. He will spend the 2012-2013 academic year there studying, learning about India, and also serving as a “junior ambassador” from the United States, thanks to a Rotary International Youth Exchange Program and the Rotary Club of Mount Pleasant. An Indian student is attending Valhalla High School in exchange.
Trent is living with a host family, and will be attending 11th grade at Symbiosis College. Pune is known as an educational center and is the cultural capital of Maharastra state. Already, after only three weeks in India, Trent has made news headlines; he was featured on the front page of the Pune Times of India newspaper demonstrating his newfound skill playing a very large drum called a dhol. His host family “mother,” Vaishali Nikam, reports that he became the “Hero of the City” for jumping in and participating in a musical practice session. He has also been interviewed on a local radio station.
Trent’s parents, Susan and Bert Shillingford, miss him but say: “We are glad that our son was given this wonderful opportunity by the Rotary to experience the culture and diversity of Pune, and it appears that he has indeed embraced his responsibilities and circumstances with a positive and healthy attitude.” Ms. Shillingford adds, “We also appreciate all the efforts of Peekskill High School, and especially Trent’s counselor, Mr. Frank Colombini; everyone bent over backwards to make sure the school schedules fit together.”
International exchange programs are a hallmark of Rotary’s mission, promoting global peace and understanding. According to Dr. Roger Swanson, Chairman of Rotary 7230 in Metro New York and Bermuda, “Trent will make a great impression representing America and help bring ‘Peace Through Service,’ the International Motto of Rotary International this year.”
Trent’s teachers and classmates look forward to his return next June, when he can share his knowledge of the world’s largest democracy—and of the world’s largest drums.