Rotary Youth Exchange
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Introduction to

Rotary District 5400 Youth Exchange Program

 
 
 

About Youth Exchange

A Brazilian student makes her first snowman in Finland. A South African masters eating with chopsticks at his Japanese hosts’ home. An Australian becomes part of an extended family in Russia, and a Mexican student in France raises funds to benefit homeless children in Haiti. New experiences, new “families” and friends, and new adventures can await you, too.
 
As a Rotary Youth Exchange student, you will spend a year, or perhaps just an extended period of time, living with a host family in a country other than your own. You may learn a new language; you will learn a new way of living and a great deal about yourself. But there’s more. While you are busy learning, the people you meet will be learning as well — about your country, culture, and ideas. You will be an ambassador. You will be helping to bring the world closer together, and you’ll be making good friends in the process.
 
If you are ready for the challenge and the rewards of living in another land as an exchange student, then you are ready for the Rotary Youth Exchange.

A true one-for-one exchange

Rotary Youth Exchange is a true one-to-one exchange. Rotary sends out an American student for every foreign student taken in exchange. The District 5400 Rotary youth exchange program is a long-term high school exchange program which lasts for an academic year. During your stay, you will attend high school and live with one or more host families
— in some cases as many as three different families.
 

Objectives of the Program

We strive to achieve the following objectives through Rotary Youth Exchange:
 
  • To further international goodwill and understanding by enabling students to study first hand some of the problems and accomplishments of people in lands other than their own.
  • To enable students to advance their education by studying for a year in an environment entirely different from their own, and undertaking the study of courses and subjects not normally available to them in their own country.
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  • To give students opportunities to broaden their outlook by learning to live with and meet people of different cultures, creeds, and colors and by having to cope with day-to-day problems in an environment completely different from the one they have experienced at home.
     

    Eligibility

    To qualify, Rotary requires that you be between the ages of 15.5 and 18.5* upon arrival the host country be in the upper third of your academic class, be of good character and emotionally stable and be in good physical health. Most importantly, you must be able and willing to be a good ambassador. Students who will graduate from their high school the same year they leave on their exchange are acceptable in the program so long as they meet the age requirements and are accepted by the host country.
     
    *Important Note: Districts worldwide develop their own rules, particularly regarding age. Some districts have more restrictive rules than Rotary requires.
    Remember, where there’s a difference, the district rules apply to all students of that district. For example, a district might require a student to be no younger than 16 years of age to participate, or a district might require that students not be more than 18 years old at time of departure. You would have to fit within their guidelines to have an exchange in such districts. Flexibility is the key in those situations.
     
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    Since some host countries require that the U.S. students still be attending school, if you will already have graduated from high school, it’s important for you to be flexible in accepting a host country that doesn’t have that limitation.
     

    Language Skills

    All countries require that students make a real effort to learn the basics of their language before they arrive. In fact, France and Germany prefer students who have studied their language for a minimum of 2 years prior to arrival. Consequently, as soon as you know your host country, you will be required to develop an Intensive Language Learning Plan which will start immediately and continue until departure. You will be required to make your best effort to achieve functional fluency prior to departure.
     

    Interests and Personality

    You should have an inquiring mind, be actively interested in your own environment and be a generally well-rounded individual. You should be outgoing, well-adjusted and have a good family relationship.
     

    Personal Appearance and Habits

    If you smoke, you might not be approved for an exchange by District 5400, since Rotary International officially discourages smoking by exchange students. “Green hair, nose studs and similar unusual dress” are also actively discouraged by Rotary. Keep in mind that you will be an ambassador for Rotary and the United States and may be sent to very conservative countries and families.
     

    Vegetarians

    Some countries are reluctant to accept vegetarians, and we aren’t able to send vegetarians to Argentina for example. Applicants must provide full details of any dietary restrictions in their applications.
     

    Children of Rotarians

    Sons and daughters of Rotarians are eligible to be exchange students, although they won’t receive preferential treatment in the selection process. Their application will be considered equally with all other applications.
     

    Your responsibilities

    All students are ambassadors of the Rotary club that sponsored them and of their country. You are expected to follow the Youth Exchange program rules, be open to new experiences, and strive to learn the language of the host country.
     

    You Must Help Find Host Families

    This is a true exchange program which means that whichever country you are sent to, will send us a foreign exchange student in return. The local Rotary clubs will host those students and provide a Rotary counselor, school enrollment and a monthly stipend. Rotary requires multiple host families and you will be required to provide a list of three potential host families and submit this along with your country preference form. (If you are willing, you may list your own family as one of the possible host families.)

    Rotary Responsibilities

    Rotarians work to take care of the logistics of the exchange. As all youth exchanges are carried out at the local level, the local Rotary club and district will arrange school enrollment, tuition and other educational matters with the local secondary school. All program volunteers are devoted to the safety of the students, and the host club and district maintain policies and procedures to protect the students. Local Rotarians also introduce the student to the other club members and organize some social and cultural functions for the student to attend.
     

    Host Countries

    The Rotary Youth Exchange program offers the widest variety in international destinations when compared to other exchange programs. As a Rotary student, you will have an opportunity to exchange with countries in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. The list of countries with whom we exchange is limited each year, and it also changes each year based on interest and availability of students in both countries.
     

    Monthly Allowance

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    For long-term exchanges, the hosting club or district appoints a Rotarian counselor and arranges a monthly allowance for the student. The Rotarian counselor maintains contact with the host family and the student throughout the exchange. While Rotary International offers support to local Rotary Youth Exchange programs through publications and suggested guidelines, Rotary districts and clubs run their programs independently of Rotary International. Therefore, each club or district program has its own specific rules for youth exchange participants to follow.
     

    When to Apply

    For long-term exchanges, selection takes place in the fall prior to the year you will make your exchange. If you wish to travel abroad during your junior year, for example, you will apply in September of your sophomore year. If you are wondering why it is necessary to apply so early, once you are selected, your sponsoring Rotary club and district will work to prepare you for your year away. You will be guided through a series of orientation sessions so you'll be ready for your new life in a new country.
     
    The selection cycle begins in August and September each year. September 15 is usually the deadline to submit the preliminary application. Find your Rotary contact person and ask questions early.

    How to Apply & Selection

    If you are interested in becoming a Rotary Youth Exchange student, please contact your local Rotary club. Once you have contacted a club, you will then be directed to the Rotary Youth Exchange Officer chairperson in your area to get a preliminary application form.
     

    Club Interviews

    You will need to fill out a preliminary application provided at the end of this brochure. Please submit it to your local Rotary club prior to September 15. Your local Rotary Club will evaluate your application and set up local interviews in late September. If approved by the local club, you will need to fill out the long application as specified below. Candidates approved at the local level will be invited to a second interview at the district level.
     

    District Interviews

    Once approved at the local level, the District Youth Exchange Committee will interview all recommended applicants and their parents in the first part of November in Buhl. The District Committee may, for reasons which it considers valid or on the basis of assessment of a student at the outbound orientation, disapprove that student’s application or suggest that student apply in a future year. You will
     
    be contacted by one of the District 5400 outbound coordinators with details concerning the steps leading up to this event in Buhl.
     
    Prior to the District interview you must fill out and submit the long-term exchange application, which can be found on the district website (www.rotary5400.org). Part of this application includes a medical examination and dental examination, so it would be smart to schedule these as soon as possible in September.

    Orientation

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    After you are selected to be an outbound student for District 5400, you are required to attend two orientation/training events: One in late January, and one on May. Students are required to attend both of these; parents are required to attend the event in May only, in accordance with Rotary and State Department requirements.
     
     

    Costs

    Rotary Youth Exchange is one of the least expensive international exchange programs open to high- school-aged students. Because volunteers in Rotary clubs and districts administer the Rotary Youth Exchange program, you will not have to pay fees to an agency to arrange an exchange.
     

    Flat fee

    District 5400 has a flat-fee policy, under which all outbound students pay a flat fee of approximately
     
    The flat fee covers the cost of:
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    Visa fee
    Round trip air fare
    Health Insurance
    Sponsoring district orientation or language camp, if required.
    Rotary Blazer
    Administrative Fees
    Monthly Allowance
    Room and board during stay in host country
    Event costs for outbound interviews, McCall Weekend and District Conference
     
    Expenses NOT covered by the flat fee:
    Emergency fund of $300-500, if required by hosting club. This is refundable if not needed.
    Voluntary language courses
    Personal expenses
    Passport fee
    Extra spending money
    Optional trips offered by hosting district
    Travel to obtain Visa*
    Visa fee
    Round trip air fare
    Health Insurance
    Sponsoring district orientation or language camp, if required.
    Rotary Blazer
    Administrative Fees
    Monthly Allowance
    Room and board during stay in host country
    Event costs for outbound interviews, McCall Weekend and District Conference
     
    Expenses NOT covered by the flat fee:
    Emergency fund of $300-500, if required by hosting club. This is refundable if not needed.
    Voluntary language courses
    Personal expenses
    Passport fee
    Extra spending money
    Optional trips offered by hosting district
    Travel to obtain Visa*
    Abide by all the program rules of your host Rotary club and district.
  • Accept the supervision of the host district, host club, and host family.
  • Act as an ambassador of your own country.
  • Be open to new experiences and cultural differences.
    Although Rotary International offers support to local Rotary Youth Exchange programs through publications and suggested guidelines, Rotary districts and clubs run their programs independent of Rotary International. Therefore, each club or district program will have its own specific rules for students
     
    to follow. Students accepted into the program sign and agree to abide by a list of program rules prior to their departure from home. While the host Rotary club will discuss all program rules with you, you and your parents may wish to review the program rules to be sure everyone has a clear understanding of what is expected.
     

    I’m looking for university-level exchanges. Does Rotary have any programs for me?

    Rotary Youth Exchange is a secondary program only. A different Rotary Program, the Ambassadorial Scholarships of The Rotary Foundation, may have an opportunity that fits your needs. This program sponsors several types of scholarships for undergraduate and graduate students as well as qualified professionals pursuing vocational studies.

    Didn’t find the answer to your question?

    Contact a Rotary Youth Exchange committee member for additional assistance: