“Rotary youth exchange was the best year of my life! I had the opportunity to meet so many people and see so many new places. Learning a new language and immersing myself in a new culture pushed me outside my comfort zone and helped me gain more confidence.”
What is Rotary Long-Term Exchange?
The program is well suited to young people who want to gain a better understanding of the world and the culture and traditions of the host country. While on exchange, the student also acts as an ambassador of their home country, community and Rotary club.
Although the program emphasizes the cultural experience, there is an academic aspect of learning a new language and attending school is mandatory.
What Can I Expect from the Exchange?
Life in another country can be an exciting and challenging and our past participants tell us that the opportunities and experience far surpasses and challenge.
Not only do students gain a cultural understanding and language skills while gaining leadership qualities; they make lifelong friends from all over the world, develop new skills, expand their palette and create one-of-a-kind memories.
On exchange you will find that schooling may be offered very differently than here, and although the exchange is primarily cultural, students are expected to do their best to succeed. You may not be able to get credit on your transcripts for the courses you take but the knowledge you gain will be exceptional.
Family composition and dynamics might be new, you may find yourself as an only child for the first time in your life, or perhaps fill the role of big sister or brother for the first time. Lots of things will be unfamiliar, not better or worse – just different. It all part of the learning! The families that host students are all vetted by Rotary and must meet certain standards.
What Role Does Rotary Play?
Rotary negotiates country placement with partner districts and guides the students through the application process. Students must be sponsored by a Rotary club and that club provides a Youth Exchange Officer (YEO)to work directly with the student and their family. The YEO will help the student with the application process, conduct the initial interview and work with the district to set up the district interview.
Travel arrangements to the host country are made by Rotary and advice is available to assist in obtaining the necessary visa and travel insurance.
Your host club will expect you to be an active participant in Rotary activities by attending some meetings, doing a presentation about your home country and perhaps assisting with some of their service projects. Mentors are appointed to every outbound student, one who is a Rotarian and one who is a former exchange student to help navigate the exchange.
Will I Get to Travel While on Exchange?
When you apply for exchange, you will be asked to identify three or four countries that are your preferred destination and we try to accommodate at least one of those choices, however, sometimes that isn’t possible due to demand for a specific country exceeding available placements or because the country cannot accept students.
What is the Cost?
Host clubs provide the student with a monthly allowance that is approximately equal to $100 USD, room and board, and school expenses.