Rotary Youth Exchange A to Z

The Rotary Youth Exchange program is open to high school students who will be between the ages of 15 and 18 and have not completed 4 years of high school at the time 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, adventurous, willing to learn a foreign language, and have above average grades in school. The application form will require you to tell about yourself and your family, and provide references from school teachers and administrators.

Participants attend high school and may or may not get credit back home for courses taken (but colleges often recognize the value of exchange programs, with credit for language ability and greater acceptance rates!). Each student will have three or four (or more) host families through the year to broaden the experience and see the variations that exist in all cultures.

Qualities Sought in Youth Exchange Participants

Through many years experience, which has made the Rotary Youth Exchange Program the largest such program in the world, we have found the following general qualifications useful:

  • Above average academic qualifications. (This does not mean the top of your class, but the upper third.)
  • Applicants should be good ambassadors for their town, for Rotary, and for the United States. During their year abroad, they may be called upon to address many groups. They must, therefore, possess a good personality and have the ability to communicate with other people and to express themselves clearly.
  • Applicants should possess well-rounded personalities with an ability to think through their problems and stresses of living in a foreign environment.
  • Applicants should have an inquiring mind and be actively interested in their own environment, the world in general, and in world problems.
  • Applicants should be students who are active in their community through sports, hobbies, youth activities or church affairs. The successful students are invariably those who lead busy, active lives in their community.
  • Applicants should be well adjusted, particularly in their family relationships. The student who cannot adjust to his/her own family may well find it impossible to adjust to more difficult family situations in a foreign environment. The best students invariably come from happy, united homes where the parents are 100% in support of the student’s participation in the Program.
  • Not older than 18 years old when leaving the USA in July-August. This is not a Rotary rule, but a requirement of certain host countries. Several countries require even younger ages. Rotary encourages students to take their sophomore or junior year abroad. In this way, they return to their American high school for at least one year.


Living Abroad

Students who are sent abroad under the Rotary Youth Exchange Program are required to accept the following obligations:

  • Students are expected to obey the laws of their host country at all times and accept the discipline of their host school and host parents.
  • Students are required to enroll at a high school designated by the host club and attend classes regularly, participating fully in all school activities.
  • Students may be required to address Rotary Clubs, other service organizations, youth groups, and community groups during their stay in their host country and will, on their return to the United States, be expected to address similar groups on their experiences as an exchange student.
  • During their stay abroad students are expected to attend the annual Rotary Conference in their districts as well as other official Rotary and Youth Exchange Program functions as directed by their host clubs.
  • Students are ambassadors for the United States and must at all times behave in a manner which will reflect credit on their family, community, and country.
  • Students must return directly to the United States upon completion of their exchanges. Students will not be allowed to stay in the host country after the termination of the exchange period.
  • Students are not allowed to drive any motor vehicle while under the supervision of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program.
  • Students are not allowed to drink alcohol.
  • Students are not allowed to use illegal drugs.
  • Romantic involvement is not allowed.
  • Most countries will send the student home for breaking these obligations.


The Application Process

Students applying for the Rotary Youth Exchange program go through the following steps:

  • Applicants are first interviewed by their local sponsor Rotary Club in September or early October.
  • Rotary Clubs forward eligible applications to the District Youth Exchange Committee in early October.
  • Applicants attend a mandatory Passport Fair with at least one parent to learn about the countries district 7170 exchanges with.
  • Applicants are interviewed at the District Interviews (held in November) where the final selection of the following year's exchange students is made.
  • Future exchange students attend a series of mandatory orientations and a District Conference to help prepare them for their year abroad.
  • Optional events, which usually include the students who are here from other countries, also help students prepare for their adventure abroad.



We hope this information is useful to you as you consider this opportunity. If you're ready to take the plunge or have any questions please contact your local Rotary Club or feel free to contact one of the district youth exchange committee members.