Rotary Youth Exchange Program
Each year thousands of young people worldwide are given an opportunity to experience the cultures and accomplishments of people in other countries.
During your exchange, you will grow considerably in self-confidence, tolerance and self-reliance.
You’ll also learn to accept greater responsibility in your everyday life.
You will have to adapt to unfamiliar and different surroundings and ways of life that are different from home.
For some this will be the first extended period of separation from their family. This will bring about many trials and tribulations which you will need to overcome and by so doing develop many “survival skills”.
To live away from home for the 50 weeks duration of the exchange is a demanding yet rewarding experience. It is not always smooth sailing and requires a great strength of character, tolerance and an understanding of the acceptance personal responsibility.
The exchange provides a unique opportunity for young Australians to experience at first hand the many cultures of a different country, a new way of life and in some instances another language. Often, the friendships they make will be life long and important in achieving the aims of the exchange – the building of goodwill and understanding between countries.
As a Rotary Youth Exchange you’ll have:
- An opportunity to develop your personal self confidence and maturity
- An opportunity to develop a lifetime of international friendships
- An opportunity to develop a real understanding of many different cultures
- An opportunity to develop new language skills
- An opportunity to develop a base for future education and career goals
- An opportunity to develop in many ways
The closing date for applications for Rotary Youth Exchange is in March of the year prior to departure. Always check this with your local Rotary District.opportunity to develop new language skills
February 2016 – Applications are now open.
Rotary Youth Exchange Australia maintains hosting arrangements with over 30 countries worldwide.
Your Australian host District 9600 can provide you with a list of countries available for Exchange.
Frequent Host Countries
Countries Australian Rotary Clubs frequently host with include:
Please note that not all Districts exchange with the same group of countries and options may change from year to year.
Students have the opportunity to nominate a preferred country of exchange available to that District. However, as there are limited places in any one country, a preparedness to accept an exchange in any of the other available countries is necessary.
The District committee decides the final country of destination.
The total cost of your Exchange varies depending on the country of Exchange, your departure location and your personal budget.
The cost of a Rotary Exchange also varies between each District (see to the right) around Australia. To get a more detailed idea of the costs of an Exchange from your local Rotary District, use the District locator to the right. Some Districts offer a package price for many of the obligatory cost items.
Below is a broad outline of costs, to give you a general idea.
The student’s natural parents or guardian provide for all of the following costs:
- An administration fee
- Return airfare, as arranged by Rotary, to the country of exchange
- Personal insurance, as defined by Rotary International
- Internal travel in overseas country including Rotary organised tours
- Day to day living expenses of the student, postage, phone calls, personal items, clothing, footwear etc.
- A small emergency fund (redeemable at conclusion of exchange, if unused)
- Rotary approved host families who provide a family environment for the student
- Schooling and the payment of normal school fees and expenses
- A monthly allowance of approximately $100 to the student
- A student counselor, both here and in the host country
- Back up support and counseling for the family of the student
Amounts vary but we suggest you allow approximately $5,000 to $10,000 for additional expenses throughout the year.
Naturally, you have to consider these amounts against what it normally costs to keep you for 12 months living at home.
The Rotary Youth Exchange program is open to Australian high school students who are between the ages of 15 and 18 at the date of departure (mid-January in each year). Please note that some countries may have lower age limits.
All applicants and their parents are interviewed by your local District Youth Exchange committee. Successful applicants who progress through the initial interview are then asked to complete a more comprehensive final application. Your local Youth Exchange committee then nominates successful applicants to an overseas District committee for their consideration.
This official application provides the following details for a potential host Rotary club:
- Personal particulars and background
- General information relating to the applicant
- Applicant’s school activities
- Principal’s report
- Medical and dental reports
- Endorsement of sponsoring Rotary club and district
- Guarantee form signed by applicant and parents
- Parental/guardian release form
How are students prepared for the exchange?
The District committee arranges training in a wide range of areas.
These include personal development, public speaking, communication skills, cultural awareness and financial management. This is to prepare the student as much as is possible for the exchange year. Parents are required to be involved in this training and therefore gain an appreciation of the many issues, which will confront the student during the year.
For Youth Exchange FAQs & Program Rules please click here
If you have any further questions, please get in touch with your local Youth Exchange committee.
Am I eligible to be a Rotary exchange student?
The Rotary Youth Exchange program is open to high school students between the ages of 15 and 18 on the date of departure.
It does not matter whether your parents are members of a Rotary Club – the program is open to children of Rotarians and non-Rotarians alike.
Exchange student candidates must be outgoing, self-confident, friendly, adaptable, and adventurous, willing to learn a foreign language, with above average grades in school.
What is the long-term program?
For a truly amazing, life-changing experience, there is nothing like the long-term exchange. Students spend a year in another country, becoming fluent in the language and immersed in the culture, and developing friendships that will last a lifetime.
Participants attend high school, and may or may not get credit back home for courses taken (but Universities may recognize the value of exchange programs, with credit for language ability and greater acceptance rates!). Each student will likely have more than one and usually up to three or four host families through the year, to broaden the experience and see the variations that exist in all cultures.
It takes a very special teen to consider him or herself capable of spending a year abroad, but the rewards and experiences are unlike anything you may ever know again. If you think you can do this, don’t let the opportunity pass you by.
Do I get to choose my country?
A very popular question. And the answer is… yes and no. The countries we exchange with are those we know run top-quality programs, and we re-evaluate them each year. There are a limited number of exchanges available with each country, and we will not overload any country in either direction, inbound or outbound.
When allocating countries we take into account the Hosting Countries specific requirements as well as your preferences.
We ask you to select five preferred countries, and we allow you to refuse any countries that you would not accept as a host country. The majority of students will get one of their five choices. But remember, flexibility is a vital characteristic for a successful exchange student, and that starts right at the beginning.
Do I have to know another language?
No, not at all. Naturally, it would help to have some familiarity with the language of the country you go to, but we don’t limit the program to those who are already bi-lingual. In fact, one of the great benefits of the program is quickly gaining fluency in another language.
Typically, our students have some fluency in 3-4 months, even without any previous knowledge of the language! But we strongly recommend that all participants start learning their target language as soon as they are selected for the program. The more of the language you know up front, the better your experience will be.
Will I get school credit for my exchange year?
This is always a tough question because it varies from school to school and country to country. You should sit down with your school counselors when you apply and when you know what country you are going to for your year. Pre-planning makes a big difference.
Is there any future advantage?
Yes! Past history has indicated that having the Rotary Exchange Year on your CV and applications carries more weight in many cases than your HSC and class ranking, Universities are looking for students that are going to successfully complete their studies and graduate.
By completing a full year exchange in another culture you are showing them that you have the “right stuff”. Future employers will take similar views of your year’s experience, not to mention the benefits of becoming bi-lingual or bi-cultural!
What if I have problems during my exchange?
The design of the Rotary Exchange program is such that if you have problems we have the resources to help you solve the problems, starting with a Rotary Club right in the community in which you are living. You will have multiple avenues of help available to you to resolve any problem that might come up.
Rotary International and Rotarians in general take very seriously our responsibility for the safety and security of all Rotary exchange students, both inbound and outbound. In November, 2002, the Board of Directors of Rotary International adopted the following 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.
Do my parents have to host an inbound student?
Parents of long-term outbound students are not required to host. However, we certainly encourage it.
Many, of course, choose to do so, partly because they have an empty room, but also so they can experience some of what their son or daughter is going through. We encourage that, but we also recognize that not all families are able to host.
In reality it is the other side of exchange and for parents often the most rewarding part. Quite often you will have life long links with students from other countries who have stayed with you.
We do ask outbound students and their families to help find host families in their own communities, to accommodate the inbound student that will be hosted by their Rotary Club.
After all Rotary Youth Exchange relies heavily on the goodwill of people all around the world. That is why it is an exchange!
OK, bottom line, what does it cost?
Probably a lot less than you think. You see, Rotarians are all volunteers, so there are no salaries or commissions paid to the people who administer this program. It does cost money, though, to make the arrangements, present the orientations, provide student materials and supplies, etc. And, of course, there’s airfare, insurance, and other travel expenses.
Rotary exchange students spending a year abroad are provided with a monthly allowance from their host Rotary club. This is usually the equivalent of $100 US, but may vary by location. If you want or need spending money beyond that, it is up to you and your parents to provide it. Of course, you do not have to pay for room and board, school fees, etc.
Almost all students are also required to deposit an Emergency Fund with their host Rotary Club. Usually $500, this money is there for unexpected expenses (medical, dental, telephone, etc.), and, if it is used during the year, it must be replenished by you or your parents. If it is not used, it is returned to you at the end of the year.
Keep in mind that whilst you are living at home in Australia, it does cost money. Think of this cost being offset by you living in a Host country.
In summary, a full breakdown of the costs is available here
Rules & Obligations
While Rotary Districts and Clubs run their programs in accordance with the policy of Rotary International. Each will have their own specific rules that may vary slightly, for students to follow.
Students are required to adhere to the laws of the host country at all times, the rules of the program, as defined by the hosting and sponsoring districts. These are based on common sense and relate to personal behaviour, safety and the expectations of being an ambassador for their country, their family, themselves and Rotary.
Students must return to Australia on completion of the exchange by the most direct route as arranged by the district committee.
You are required to attend school
All students are required to attend a secondary level school for the duration of the exchange.
This is even if you have completed year 12 before leaving.
Rotary International, in line with its objective to provide the best student exchange program has developed a worldwide Certification process for all participating clubs and the necessary infrastructure of the program.
As part of its working with youth policy, the Board of Rotary International has made the following statement as a Code of Conduct: