Short Term Youth Exchange
The short term youth exchange program in Rotary District 5550 is a direct family-to-family cultural exchange that lasts usually seven weeks. It is an opportunity for students to immerse themselves, for a short period of time, in a foreign culture, learning the language, and acting as an ambassador for Rotary overseas. During the exchange, they will live with a single host family, which will have a child also participating in the exchange. This exchange allows two families, from different countries, and often speaking different languages, to exchange and share with each other. Although the individual students are the focus of the program, both families will experience a cultural exchange, as both families will host a foreign student.
Outbound Canadian students usually will spend the summer holidays (from early July until mid-August) participating in the program. The student’s family will host an inbound overseas student, usually in the same time period, though in some countries the inbound student will live in Canada in January and February. The students will be in both countries together for the duration of the exchange.
Interested students should contact their local Rotary Club or Paulette Connery, District 5550’s youth exchange chair, for more information. Applications can be made at any time, by any student aged sixteen or seventeen years old for the following year. An initial application form must be filled out by the student, and a two page letter must be provided that sets out why the student is interested in the program, along with details of the student’s community and extra-curricular involvement. The student will be interviewed by their local Rotary club. If successful, a second interview will be held with a member of District 5550’s Youth Exchange committee. If that interview is passed, then the committee will arrange a direct exchange.
Students who are selected for exchange have typically demonstrated leadership in their school and community, they are flexible and willing to try new things, are open to cultural differences, and can serve as an ambassador overseas. Academic merit is not a requirement for Rotary’s exchange program, but successful applicants are typically strong academically.
The short term exchange program, as it is a direct, family-to-family exchange, will accept special needs and disabled students into the program, provided the student has a desire to attend. Ordinarily, the student should have an independent interest in the program. The student’s guardian should contact Paulette Connery directly to discuss the student’s interest, and should be prepared to be candid about the student’s physical and mental limitations. Any exchange will normally take place with a disabled student overseas. The feasibility of any exchange will be worked out on a case-by-case basis.
The countries that are currently available for a short term exchange are: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, France, Germany, Japan, Sweden, Mexico, Switzerland, Taiwan, Brazil, Colombia, Spain, India, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia. Other countries may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The cost for the short term exchange is approximately $3,400, and includes the cost of return airfare, visas, health insurance, and the student’s Rotary exchange jacket. Rotary is a charitable organization, and runs the short term exchange using volunteers, on a cost-recovery basis.
Any Rotary Club can participate in the short term exchange, provided a Rotarian is prepared to chair the program for their club.
Paulette Connery’s contact information can be located on the Youth Exchange Commitee page.
How do I qualify?
Successful student applicants are typically:
- Above-average high-school students who have demonstrated leadership skills in the community
- They often have significant involvement in school and volunteer activities
- Many have gained life experience through part time employment and/or volunteerism
- Open to new experiences and cultural differences
- Sponsored by a local Rotary club
- Complete a written application and in-person interview
What are my responsibilities?
As a Youth Exchange student, you agree to
- Act as an ambassador for your home country
- Abide by all program rules of your host Rotary club and district
- Accept the supervision of the host family, club, and district
- Ask questions of your host family and local Rotarians
- Be an active participant in your exchange