Open up your home to an exchange student, and bring the world into your home! Being a Rotary Youth Exchange host family is a fun, educational and rewarding experience that can lead to lifelong friendships and relationships – not just with your exchange student but their family, other host families, and Rotarians involved in the exchange.
Rotary host families voluntarily open their homes to international exchange students for periods of approximately three to four months, providing that student with access to a unique opportunity to experience life as a local. This time provides an opportunity for everyone to develop a lifetime of friendships, to learn a different culture and to gain many other rewarding experiences.
Exchange students are typically between the ages of 15 and 18 years old, and will be attending a secondary school in the area of the host Rotary club.
Host families come in many shapes and sizes – there is no typical family structure required. An acceptable family might have small children, older children or no children living at home. You might be childless, parents, grandparents or even great grandparents! All that is expected is a that a caring and friendly family and home atmosphere is provided.
Host families need to:
- Provide a warm and friendly welcome.
- Provide a clean, comfortable, well-lit private bedroom, with storage for clothes and use of a table or desk (or a bedroom with no more than one of your own children of the same gender).
- If you have children, treat your exchange student like one of your own children (for example, arranging transportation to school activities, including students in your own family meals, helping students with homework, and making sure they are a part of all family activities)
- Help your student learn English and about Australian culture (Rotary clubs have scheduled activities for the students).
What’s not Required?
Host Families do not need to:
- Be a Rotarian.
- Have a child participating in Rotary Youth Exchange.
- Have children or children living at home.
- Be married/partnered at the time of the exchange.
- Be a particular race, ethnicity, religion, or sexual orientation. All families are welcome.
- Pay for all miscellaneous expenses for the student. Students receive pocket money from their host Rotary club and must cover all additional expenses themselves. As a general rule of thumb, however, if you are paying for something for one of your children (like a ticket to a movie or a family dinner out), it is customary to also pay for your exchange student.
Do I have to host a student if my own child is going on exchange?
While it is not mandatory, we obviously hope that most parents will reciprocate the generosity of the families hosting their own children by becoming a host parent themselves.
Rotary has a well-earned reputation as a student exchange program, having exchanged students worldwide for more than 50 years. Because of our existing international structure, Rotary provides a well-managed infrastructure to support the students, the host families and everyone else involved in the exchange.
Unlike commercial exchange programs where host families are often required to host the student for the full twelve-month period, Rotary offers a shorter 3-4 month hosting period. Rotary also provides the student with the support of a counsellor from their local Rotary Club to assist with any issues, questions or challenges for the student and the host family as they arise.
How much will we get paid?
Hosting Rotary Youth Exchange students is completely voluntary. Rotary does not compensate host families financially – host families participate for the rewarding, cultural experience they and their family receive, and for the satisfaction of sharing their country and culture, and helping an international student develop and grow as a global citizen.