Frequently Asked Questions about Rotary Youth Exchange

Who is eligible?
The Rotary Youth Exchange Program is open to any Wayne County high school student with good character and academic performance. Rotary seeks mature students in the top of their academic class who have demonstrated involvement in their school and community. Some students spend their junior or senior year of high school abroad; some wait until after high school and take a Gap Year to do this program if they wish to attend their senior year at their home school. However, interested students and families are encouraged to start learning and expressing interest as early as freshman year. 
 
How old must I be?
Rotary District 6650 sponsors students ages 16-18.5 at time of departure.  Students who are planning on going on exchange after they graduate from high school usually use the experience as a gap year to learn another language and culture and to ready themselves further for college or other post-secondary opportunities. For students wishing tWao participate at the younger end of the age range, there are several options to consider, such as graduating early, or upon return, joining the IB Programme, or taking post-secondary classes in addition to the high school curriculum.
 
How long does it last?
The exchange program is for just under one year -- typically August to July.
 
Must I be proficient in a foreign language?
Requirements for proficiency in foreign language vary from country to country. Some countries offer intensive language courses for exchange students upon arrival for a modest fee.
 
Won’t I jeopardize college?
Most colleges will defer your entrance for a year without penalty because your experience abroad increases your desirability as a college applicant. And, exchange participants often feel the year delay improved their ability to concentrate on school and avoid many of the distractions that sabotage first year student’s studies. If you become proficient in another language, upon your return, you may receive college foreign language credit by testing out.
 
Can I choose my country?
Although you may specify your preference for host countries, you must be flexible in your choices. Each year there are over 25 applicants for exchange from this area and most countries will accept only a few students. Every effort is made to place you in your first choice, but often only a second or third choice is available. Our District exchanges with over 20 countries.
 
What countries are involved in the District 6650 exchange?
In any given year, which  countries our students can do an exchange with depends on which countries send students to our district. In recent years, our students have gone to Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, France, India, Spain, Switzerland, Taiwan and Thailand.
 
What will I do for a year?
You will live with one or more Rotary host families as a member of that family. You will attend the local high school and experience your host country’s day-to-day life as a native rather than a tourist. You will also be sharing your experiences growing up in the United States with you host family and friends, and in general be promoting international understanding and goodwill.
 
What’s in it for me?
Students who are chosen to participate in the Rotary exchange program usually comment it is the best year of their lives. They make lasting ties to people from other nations and backgrounds. Participants develop greater self-awareness, increased confidence and improved focus. They gain a deeper understanding of world problems and an increased appreciation of their own countries. Most become very proficient in a second language and develop an in-depth understanding of another culture. All of these expand your opportunities in academic endeavors, social life and careers.
 
What does it cost?
Unlike other exchange programs, volunteers in organizations throughout the world run the Rotary exchange program. You pay a District training fee, for round trip airfare to the host country, health insurance, and any incidental expenses, including special travel trips while on exchange. The hosting Rotary club provides you with host families and monthly spending money.  Some financial aid is available for those with need.  Contact the Rotary Youth Exchange Chair for more information.
 
How is Rotary different from other exchange programs?
The Rotary organization is directly involved in every aspect of the exchange. In every town where students are placed, members of the local Rotary will be attending to the welfare of the exchange student. The local Rotary clubs select appropriate host families, arrange travel, assist with visas and school admissions -- all on a volunteer basis as part of Rotary’s mission to promote international understanding. Students often attend weekly Rotary meetings to get to know Rotarians, who are generally the business professional leaders of that community.
 
Okay, I’m interested. But how do I convince my parents?
Let them know of your interest. You don’t need their commitment right away, so just start the process and let the program sell itself to them. Your Rotary representative would be happy to speak with them and connect them with the parents of current and past exchange students. Once they understand what the program is like, they will be much more likely to agree to your participation.
 
I think I’d like to be an exchange student but I’m not sure. What should I do?
Let Rotary know you are interested. We’ll keep you informed about the program and help you determine if an exchange would be valuable for you. Even if you are several years away from graduation, we’d like to have your name on our mailing list for exchange events, like presentations by returning students, which will help you decide.
 
Once I’m sure, how do I apply?
The application process begins in the fall for the following exchange year. An orientation meeting is held for interested students and their parents in September. At this meeting Rotary representatives explain the program, the application process and answer questions. Students with an interest in the Rotary exchange program are encouraged to complete the interest form to ensure notification of the September meeting.