SHIRLEY -- Philip Wesley will be a junior in high school next fall. But he won't be joining his classmates at The Bromfield School in Harvard where he recently finished 10th grade.
Instead, the son of Claudia and David Wesley will be living and attending school in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, the guest of a Rotary Youth Exchange host family.
Kyrgyzstan, which Americans might confuse with the more familiar Kazakhstan, gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The nation is located roughly between China and Iran.
"I wanted to experience a completely different lifestyle," Philip said following a presentation on May 30 by Pat Doyle, district chair for the Rotary Youth Exchange.
"Your club is new to it this year, so you probably have questions," she said, beginning her talk to the Ayer Rotary Club during its regular dinner meeting held downstairs at the Bull Run restaurant. Upstairs, Dave Davies, cofounder of the British rock band, "The Kinks," was warming up an overflow crowd.
"We were running this program district to district for years," Doyle said, describing the autonomy Rotary Clubs used to have in setting up the exchanges. "But the State Department got stricter about rules for visas. It became complicated and we created the Eastern States Student Exchange or ESSEX."
Philip is one of the first students in the Rotary's international exchange program to be placed with a family in Kyrgyzstan. While he is on exchange, a teenager from Spain will be living with his family.