Rotary’s Long-Term Exchange presents you an opportunity to expand your education, become a more interesting person, and contribute to world understanding by living and attending school in a different country. Students live with host families in their adopted land under the sponsorship and supervision of the local Rotary Club. It is our hope that you will be able to see firsthand the problems and accomplishments of other people of different colors, creeds and cultures. Rotary Youth Exchange is the largest in the world. And because arrangements are made by local Rotarians, it is also one of the safest youth exchange programs in the world.
Through many years of experience, we have found the following general qualifications useful:
- Above average academic standing. Students do not have to be at the top of their class, but we do find that students who are in the upper third of their class have a better exchange experience.
- Students should have an inquiring mind and be actively interested in their own environment, in the world in general and in world problems.
- Students should possess well-rounded personalities with an ability to think through the problems and stresses of living in a foreign environment.
- Students should be active in their community, such as sports, hobbies, youth activities, or church. Successful students invariably are those who lead active lives.
- Students should be well-adjusted, particularly in their family relationships.
- Students cannot be older than 18½ when they depart in July or August (19 for Belgium). If you take your sophomore or junior year abroad, you return to your home high school for at least one year before graduating, and can share your experience with friends. Some students take a gap year between high school and college for the exchange. Colleges generally look very favorably on the exchange experience when evaluating applicants. Some have allowed accepted students to defer starting college for a year in order to go on exchange.
The need for a working knowledge or proficiency in the country’s language varies. For example, in India and the Philippines, schools teach in English, whereas in France they teach in French. It is encouraged and sometimes mandatory that you take a crash language course or tutoring.
The program is a member of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), a nonprofit organization committed to setting standards for international educational travel and monitoring compliance with those standards. It is also approved by the U.S. Department of State. Your costs include an application fee, airfare and mandatory health insurance. Unlike most other exchange programs, Rotary does not charge thousands of dollars in administrative fees.
Living in a foreign country has a powerful effect on your maturing process. Managing your own finances and making decisions gives you more confidence and independence. You learn to think and converse fluently in another language. You develop more confidence in speaking before groups. You become more tolerant of other people, different cultures and different personalities. And you develop friendships that will last a lifetime and span the globe.