Many District 5220 members are involved with Rotary Short-Term Youth Exchange programs and serve as a vital link in Rotary’s international mission to facilitate exchange opportunities for youth. For those familiar with the program, you may have participated by hosting a student, helping send students, or have volunteered with your club on exchange logistics. The long-term exchanges are equally impactful. We’ll explain why.
How Long-Term Exchange Works
Rotary clubs must first sponsor a student. To qualify, a candidate must be between the ages of 15-19, an above-average student, a demonstrated leader, and a youth who is open to new experiences and cultural differences. Students go through an application process that includes an in-person interview.
Once abroad, the student will live with three different host families throughout the year in his or her selected country. A full-year program requires a dedicated teenager who is willing to attend school in a foreign country, learn a new language (if a non-English speaking country), and act as an ambassador for the U.S. and Rotary International. The results and stories are well-worth it. Thousands of students have had life-changing experiences while abroad, and Rotary has helped train a new generation of leaders through the exchanges.
Youth Exchange programs are a key component of Rotary’s international involvement with youth and are a central part of the New Generations Avenue of Service. Every year, Rotary facilitates exchange programs for approximately 8,000 students from over 80 countries, and in the process, broadens experiences for students and the families who host them.
150 Countries Participating
Rotary has exchanges in 150 countries. Clubs vary by the country they’re able to send students to, so please check with your local club and district to learn about the exchange opportunities available in your area.
How Much Do Students Have to Pay?
The Youth Exchange program is designed to be affordable and accessible to all qualified candidates. True to Rotary’s mission, the organization wants to open avenues and encourage international dialogue for all. Rotary sponsors the placement costs and students are asked to cover the following:
- Round-trip airfare
- Health and accident insurance
- Travel documents, clothing, and other necessities
- Spending money
- Emergency funds for unpredicted expenses
- Ancillary travel and tours
Host families pay for housing and food costs, and the host Rotary club covers school tuition (if applicable) and country arrangements. Additionally, the host club will offer a small stipend for the students of $50-$100 a month.
How do I apply?
Please send one of the printed copies to Shannon Duckworth by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail to P.O. Box 3718, Sonora, CA 95370 (209) 536-1218 . Please answer the essay questions using a word processing program and e-mail this as a separate file or you can print it out and mail it. The photos can be e-mailed as separate files or printed out and mailed. You also need to fill out the Choice of Programs Form.
Hosting Students: Some Quick Facts
Stateside, if you’re interested in hosting a student, or know a family who is, you will be an essential component of the exchange process. Your home will be enriched by a student who brings his or her unique cultural perspective, and you’ll participate in your student’s growth during his or her stay with you. The time commitment as a host student is four months; the students will live with three different families during the course of the year. As a host family, you will be responsible for:
- Housing and food for the student
- Supervising the student and involving him or her in family activities and chores
- Enriching the student’s experience through community and cultural activities
To keep the program affordable, all host families sign up on a volunteer basis.
Rotarian Roles: How You Can Help
Rotary Youth Exchange could not exist without the dedication of members in individual clubs. Please consider getting involved in your local club to help with the logistics that make the exchanges possible. A sample of volunteer opportunities includes:
- Introduce students to other club members and organize social and cultural functions for students
- For long-term exchanges, help arrange secondary school enrollment, tuition, and school coordination
- Volunteer as a Rotary counselor to maintain contact with host families and students
Each Rotary district and club exchange is supported by Rotary International, but clubs and districts are responsible for running their exchanges independently of RI.
Online Resources for Youth Exchange Information
Rotary International Youth Exchange site has a wealth of information on all of Rotary’s exchanges. Visit the Rotary International Youth Exchange site to find out more.