Here are some questions we frequently get asked. If you’ve got a question that’s not answered here, get in touch with us at rotaryYEP9640@gmail.com or via our contact form.
What is Rotary?
Rotary is a global network of 1.2 million neighbours, friends, leaders, and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change – across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves.
Solving real problems takes real commitment and vision. For more than 110 years, Rotary’s people of action have used their passion, energy, and intelligence to take action on sustainable projects. From literacy and peace to water and health, we are always working to better our world, and we stay committed to the end.
Am I eligible to be a Rotary exchange student?
The Rotary Youth Exchange program is generally open to high school students who are aged between 16 and 18 on the day of their departure. On occasion, a 15 year old student may be selected.
Exchange student candidates must be interested in the world around them, a self-starter, self-confident, friendly, adaptable, and adventurous, willing to potentially learn a foreign language, with above average grades in school.
What is the long term program?
The long term program is our hallmark exchange program. Students participating in this exchange spend 12 months overseas.
It is mandatory for participants to attend high school, and they may or may not get credit back home for courses taken. 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 themselves 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?
This is 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 are Rotary International Certified, 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 bilingual. In fact, one of the great benefits of the program is quickly gaining fluency in another language.
Typically, our students have some fluency within 3-4 months, even without any previous knowledge of the language! But we strongly recommend that all participants start learning their host country’s 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 counsellor when you apply and when you know what country you are going to for your exchange. Pre-planning makes a big difference.
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 them starting with your connection to a Rotary Club and it’s members 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 would hope that most parents are willing to reciprocate the generosity being offered to their own child by other families, and so 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 recognise that not all families are able to host.
Hosting is a rewarding experience in itself. Quite often your parents will develop 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 as part of the exchange. After all Rotary Youth Exchange relies heavily on the goodwill of people all around the world. That is why it is an exchange!
What if we only want to host an inbound student?
Rotary Clubs are always looking for potential host families. If you’d like to enrich your family’s experience by bringing in a Rotary exchange student, please complete our host family expression of interest form. And thanks so much for your interest!
Can I travel?
While this is not a tourist program, you will have the opportunity to travel and explore your host country (and potentially surrounding countries) on your exchange – through tours with other exchange students organised by the host Rotary district, and trips with the host families and other members of Rotary club. Rotary group tours are at the student’s own expense.
What’s the story with the blazers?
Blazers are emblematic of Rotary’s youth exchange program. Each participant gets a blazer in a colour based on their home country. Students often cover the blazer with pins they trade with one another and collect during their exchange.
OK, bottom line, what does it cost?
Probably a lot less than you think! The Rotary Youth Exchange Program is considered to be the most cost effective exchange available.
Why are our exchanges cheaper than most other exchanges? Because Rotarians are all volunteers, so there are no salaries or commissions paid to the people who administer this program, and there are no (or only small) payments made to host families.
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 small monthly allowance from their host Rotary club, usually around US$100. If you want or need spending money beyond that, it is up to you and your parents to provide it.
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.