How does our program work?
As a Rotary Youth Exchange student, you will spend one year living abroad as a full-time student in another country.
Our outbound students depart in January of each year and return the following January. We do not offer mid-year exchanges.
You will be supported by a sponsor Rotary Club in Australia and a host Rotary Club in the country in which you live. Your host Rotary Club will arrange your host families, a counsellor, and enrol you into your school.
Every Rotary Youth Exchange student will have a host club counsellor. This person will assist you with your exchange including enrolling you in school and making sure you get your monthly allowance, which your host Rotary Club will give you. Your counsellor is a volunteer and who has been screened for suitability.
You will normally have 3 or 4 host families. Each of these families will have been interviewed and assessed for their suitability before you live with them. The host families are unpaid volunteers who will welcome you into their home, supervise your year and introduce you to their culture and lifestyle.
You will also have the support of many other Rotary members – at the Rotary Club and District level.
How do I qualify?
Our District’s Rotary Youth Exchange program is generally open to enrolled high school students who are between the ages of 15 and 17 and a half at the date of departure (mid-January in each year). Some countries have tighter age limits.
You must also be in Year 9, 10 or 11 in the year that you apply for a Rotary Youth Exchange. We do not offer a post Year 12 gap year exchange due to state government education authorities rules.
The available countries are listed on the Exchange Destinations page. While we ask you to nominate your 5 preferred countries, there is no guarantee that you will get your preferred choice of country. We take a number of factors into account in deciding which country to allocate you. The factors include your age, your language skills, and your personality.
To qualify, applicants should be above-average students who have demonstrated leadership in their community.
Candidates should also possess qualities such as flexibility and a willingness to try new things that will enable them to fully experience life in another country and become excellent cultural ambassadors.
How are we different?
A number of things sets the Rotary Youth Exchange Program apart from others, but the most important ones are:
- a network of Rotary members in Australia and abroad who will support you – Rotary members are all volunteers who do not get paid for their time and are passionate about the programs that Rotary offer and want to make the world a better place
- Rotary International is a non-religious and non-political organisation
- several host families – we see this as a great thing and if you speak to former Rotary Youth Exchange students, they will tell you that learning to live with new families is part of the learning experience, and generally it’s great fun as well
- the cost of the program, because of the number of volunteers involved in the program, we can keep the cost much lower.
What will I get?
This is largely up to you. Everyone’s experience is different.
- In your host country you may learn another language, experience different foods, study different subjects and enjoy a new culture and a new way of living.
- A Rotary Youth Exchange offers you the opportunity to learn a great deal about yourself, gain confidence and self-sufficiency, as well as become an ambassador for your country.
- You will attend a school in your local community, as well as participate in Rotary Club and District activities and civic functions. At the same time, you will be make new friends, visit exciting places and experience adventures that you will treasure for the rest of your life.
In short, it should be a life changing experience!
What’s expected of me?
As a Rotary Youth Exchange student, you will be an ambassador for yourself, your family, Australia and your sponsor Rotary Club and District.
You will attend school full-time in your host country and participate as a student of the school. It is not a gap year.
You generally cannot work while you are abroad to due visa, tax and insurance issues.
The Rotary Youth Exchange program has some rules which are designed to keep you safe and well for the entire year. These include:
- obeying the laws of the host country
- abiding by the rules and conditions of your host Rotary District including travel rules. Parents or legal guardians must not authorise any extra activities directly to you. Any relatives living in the host country will not have any authority over you
- no operating of motorised vehicles, including but not limited to cars, trucks, motorcycles, aircraft, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, boats and other watercraft, or participate in driver education programs
- no drinking of alcoholic beverages (unless your host Rotary District state it’s permissible in some circumstances and you are over the country’s legal drinking age)
- no possession or use of illegal drugs
- no romantic relationships or sexual activity
- no body piercing or obtaining tattoos while on your exchange.
You will attend Rotary arranged functions and events. How many will depend on your host club and host Rotary District.
Many Rotary Clubs enjoy seeing their host student attend club meetings each week where, in turn, you’ll get to know the club members. Your host club will appreciate your participation in club projects as a volunteer.
In our Rotary District, our inbound students get together 4 or 5 times during the year. These are always great opportunities to meet with all the other Rotary Youth Exchange students living in your host country.
You will be expected to help your host families with housework and chores. You’ll live in a home with your host family, so you will be expected to perform normal duties and responsibilities as a member of the host family.
Have a fulfilling and rewarding experience abroad!
How can you help us?
We ask, as part of your commitment to us, to help our Rotary Clubs meet an expectation to host inbound students as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange program.
To do so, we and your sponsor Rotary Club will need your help to identify any families (including your own) who can be approached to host an inbound student for 3-4 months.
Typically, this is in August-November or December-March or April-July. Your sponsor Rotary Club will arrange the other host family/ies for the inbound student.