What is Rotary?
Rotary is a global network of community volunteers. Rotary Club members are business, professional and community leaders who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards and help build goodwill and peace in the world. More than 33,000 Rotary Clubs conduct projects to address today’s challenges, including illiteracy, disease, hunger, poverty, lack of clean water and environmental concerns. For more information about Rotary, visit the Rotary website at www.rotary.org.
Why Youth Exchange?
Rotary maintains a strong connection to youth and young adults, sponsoring youth service clubs such as Interact, Rotaract and Rotary Youth Leaderships Awards (RYLA). Rotarians are also globally-minded. For over 80 years, students and host families have broadened their horizons through Rotary Youth Exchange. Rotary Youth Exchange allows students and host families to meet new friends and form international bonds, to embrace new experiences and cultural differences and for students to become ambassadors for their own culture. More than 80 countries and over 8,000 students each year participate in the Youth Exchange program, which is administered at the regional level by Rotary districts and at the local level by Rotary Clubs.
Youth Exchange Programs
Rotary offers two types of exchange programs: long-term and short-term.
Long-term exchanges usually last one year (10 to 11 months), during which you attend school and live with families in your host country. To gain a greater understanding of the culture, you will live with at least two, preferably three, host families during your stay. To ensure your safety, the host Rotary Club conscientiously screens and selects all host families. In addition, you are assigned a Rotary Counselor – a member of the host Rotary Club, who maintains contact with you during your exchange, acts as a liaison between you, the host family, the school and the Rotary Club, and assists with problems that may arise during your exchange
Short-term exchanges vary in length from several days to several weeks. Although you generally would not attend school in the host country, you may be able to tailor the exchange to match your interests or to include tours of specific places or regions. The four most common types of short-term exchanges are home-stays, tours, family-to-family, and international youth camps.
Rotary Youth Exchange programs are open to students ages 15 to 18. To qualify, applicants should be above-average students who are mature, possess leadership capabilities, can be independent and are sufficiently disciplined to adhere to program rules. Candidates should also possess qualities such as flexibility and a willingness to try new things that will enable them to fully experience life in another county and become excellent cultural ambassadors.
The program is completely administered by Rotary Club members, keeping program expenses low. Typically, students and their parents are expected to cover the following expenses:
- Round-trip airfare
- Travel insurance that includes medical, accident and illness coverage and meets the requirements of the host and sponsor clubs and districts (the 2019 annual single premium was approximately $900 for this insurance)
- All travel documents, such as passports and visas
- Clothing (including a required blue blazer, identifying the student as a Youth Exchange student) and other necessary personal expense
- Spending money, ancillary travel and tours
- Traditionally, students will take along a supply of business cards to provide to people that they meet during their exchange and lapel pins as a lasting memory to trade with other exchange students
- A fee payable to Rotary District 6060 in the amount of $275 to cover program administrative costs
In addition, long-term exchange students
- Are required to maintain an emergency reserve fund of approximately $400 USD for unexpected expenses that may arise during the year
- May be required to attend foreign language camps or other cultural orientation sessions
Sharing in the costs are our generous host families, who provide free room and board, the host community, which provides free school tuition, and the host Rotary Club, which offers a monthly stipend of usually $75 to $100 USD.
What are My Responsibilities?
As a Youth exchange student, you agree to:
- Act as an ambassador for our home culture
- Abide by all Program Rules of your host Rotary Club and District
- Accept the supervision of the host family, Rotary Club and Rotary District
- Be inquisitive and be an active participant in your exchange
Where will My Exchange Be?
Exchanges can take place wherever there is Rotary, which is in more than 200 countries and geographical areas throughout the world. More specifically, our District only engages in exchanges with fully-accredited Districts. Our preferred exchange partners include:
Other countries with whom we have conducted exchanges in recent years have included:
We ask our students to name their top five countries of choice. The student must be willing to accept a placement in any one of those five countries and we will make every effort to place the student in one of the five. We do not guarantee a student their first choice, and, for reasons having to do with program balance, diversity and other factors, we may prefer to offer one of the student’s secondary choices. In certain circumstances, we may offer students additional choices to consider for their exchange. A student may also name countries of choice not on the above lists, but with the understanding that if we do not have a prior relationship with the Rotary District in that country, or have concerns with the exchange program in that country, or if there are security concerns, then that choice may not receive further consideration.
How to Apply
Rotary Youth Exchange is administered by local Rotary Clubs and Districts. District 6060 covers the eastern third of Missouri. District 6060 is a member district of South Central Rotary Youth Exchange (SCRYE). For a Youth Exchange application, go to the SCRYE website at www.scrye.org and click on the Documents and Links button for the long-term and short-term applications. Complete one original application and submit it to your local Rotary Club for sponsorship. Keep a copy for yourself, in case it should get lost or misplaced. If you are unfamiliar with whether there is a Rotary Club in your area, please contact our Outbound Coordinator (See the Contacts Page).
The local Rotary Club performs a preliminary review of your application, and if approved, forwards it to our Outbound Coordinator with the endorsement of the Rotary Club President and Club Youth Exchange Officer. The priority deadline for applications is November 1. Applications after that date may be subject to time and availability limitations.
You, along with your parents, will then be interviewed by the District Youth Exchange Committee, usually scheduled in November or December. Afterwards, you will be notified as to whether you are accepted into the exchange program. You will next be required to attend our three mandatory orientation sessions. There will be one each on a Saturday in February and March, and a third overnight in April.
Is My Family Required to Host an Inbound Student?
Hosting an Inbound student is not a requirement (except for the family-to-family short-term exchange). That being said, Youth Exchange IS an EXCHANGE PROGRAM. If we are unable to host Inbound students, we are unable to engage in Outbound exchanges with our partner Districts. Therefore, our Outbound student families are expected to assist us in securing two qualified host families (which may include his or her own family) in their local community for our Inbound students. By hosting a Youth exchange student in your home, you will make a young person’s dream come true, and you and your family will share an unforgettable and fulfilling experience.
Dedicated Rotarian volunteers have kept Youth exchange vital for decades. They work behind the scenes to handle the logistics of each exchange. In long-term exchanges, the Host Club and District assists in arranging school enrollment, tuition and other educational matters.
Youth Exchange Officers and Committee Members are the program’s leaders. Selected at the Club and District levels, these volunteers are trained to serve as liaisons between the students, the Rotary Club and District and the schools.
Rotary Statement of Conduct For Working With Youth
Rotary International is committed to creating and maintaining the safest possible environment for all participants in Rotary activities. It is the duty of all Rotarians, Rotarians’ spouses, partners, and other volunteers to safeguard to the best of their ability the welfare of and to prevent the physical, sexual, or emotional abuse of children and young people with whom they come into contact.