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Lions Club Exchange

The Nogales Lions Club (NLC) and the Santa Cruz River Leo Club (SCRLC) recently hosted the Annual C. Kirby Smithe Lions International Youth Exchange on July 24, 2013. The program that is over 30 years old brings youth from all over the world to experience America. Each year the youth spend one month touring the state and visiting each cities local Lions Club. Some of the highlights included the Grand Canyon, Sedona, Flagstaff, Tombstone, Tucson and Nogales.
This year the group consisted of Emma-Sofia Eveliina Kuokkanen, 16, Finland; Busena Kilimici, 17, Turkey; Zoe Ghaya, 16, France; Theresa Hofer, 16, Austria; Izabella Szydelko, 16, Poland; Lisa Marie Baltes, 19, Germany; Betina Ravnholt, 18, Denmark; Emily Neyman, 20, Belgium; Vittoria Manzelli, 17, Italy; and Lkhamdari Bat-Orgil, 16, Mongolia.
The group arrived in Nogales for lunch with the Lions and Leo Club at Mr. C’s restaurant. “At the meeting the club got the opportunity to meet the group, ask questions and show them what we are about in the county,” said Lions Club President Gabriel Gastelum. After the meeting the group received an in depth tour of Santa Cruz County (SCC) courtesy of the Santa Cruz County Sheriffs department which provide a caravan tour of the county. During the tour the group had close look at the international border and the local ports of entry, which was the first time they had seen Mexico. The sheriff’s tour concluded with a brief description and history of the department and county by SCC Sheriff Tony Estrada.
The youth were then treated to a “Carne Asada” dinner at the Santa Fe Ranch, which was organized by the local Leo Club. “Most of the group had never had a taco, burrito or a quesadilla,” “We had to teach them how to put one together, which gave us time to interact with them,” said Santa Cruz River Leo Club President Carmen Soto.
After the dinner the group was treated to a movie at Oasis Cinema and the youth then went home with their host families to spend the night. The youth packed up on in the morning for breakfast at Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital then left the county to finish their tour before returning home.
“For the following year we are hoping to receive clearance to take the kids into Mexico for lunch with our sister club in Nogales, Sonora, MX.,” “They all expressed an interest in visiting our sister city and if it is possible we will include this for the following year,” concluded Gastelum.
For more information about the Nogales Lions Club visit online at

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