“Before, I would never be able to make a conversation with a person I didn’t know. Now, I can proudly say it isn’t like that anymore"
What is Rotary Virtual Exchange?
As the exchange is virtual, it opens the door to a cultural exchange to those students who by choice or circumstance do not wish to take part in a short-term or long-term exchange.
What Can I Expect from the Exchange?
The content of the program will be determined in part by what the participating students want to gain from the experience; they may want to do a virtual tour of their community to share with the group, perhaps share traditions tied to a specific holiday or event, share a national sporting event, or maybe plan an international dinner or cooking class. The activities are done outside of the student’s school schedule so will likely take place on the weekend or after school hours; this can be complicated by the partner’s time zone.
The participants may wish to have a session where they introduce and include their family members – again, the program is designed to meet the student’s expectations and desires. Also, in keeping with Rotary’s motto of Service Above Self participants may include some type of service experience.
What Role Does Rotary Play?
Rotary exchanges, regardless of format, must meet certain criteria of Rotary International including that participating districts be certified to offer exchange. Safety of our participants is always our top priority whether is it face-to-face or virtual, so every outbound student receives orientation training including online safety training.
Students must be sponsored by a Rotary club and that club provides a Youth Exchange Officer (YEO) or Counselor to work 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.
Your sponsor club will expect you to be an active participant in the program and commit to attending the meetings; these are likely to be either weekly or bi-weekly. At this point, virtual exchanges take place over a 3-month period. Once the exchange is completed, the student will be expected to attend a meeting of the sponsor club and provide a brief presentation; this may be in person or virtual.