Rotary Youth Exchange

Rotary's Youth Exchange Program is an opportunity for young people to experience a year of education overseas in a wide range of countries. It also provides many personal experiences and opportunities during and after the year of exchange.
 
Rotary's Youth Exchange Program is recognised by participants, parents and schools as the best student exchange program in the world. It is the largest of its type in Australia and it is backed up by caring and dedicated Rotarians who provide the infrastructure of the program. Students stay with host families as arranged by the Host Rotary Club.
 
In most cases there are more than one host family, the usual arrangement being three or four. This enables students to experience life in a foreign culture with several family units. Host families may or may not be members of Rotary.
 
All Host families are approved by the Host Club and go through a series of checks before approval. Annually about 10-15 students are sponsored by Clubs in District 9790 to participate in the Long Term Program (1 calendar year, January to January).
 

Who can apply?

Any boy or girl may apply as long as the age criteria in the following paragraph are met. Sons and daughters of Rotarians have no preference in selection.
 
Applicants:
  1. Should be in Years 9, 10 or 11 in the year they make application. From 2006, no student in Victoria who has completed year 12 shall be eligible for this program.
  2. Must be aged 15 and not have turned 17 at the time of departure. For planning purposes, this should be taken as 1 January in the year of departure. Actual departure is mid January.
  3. Should be making sound academic progress at school and preferably be in the top one third of their year group academically.
  4. Should also have an interest in people and places.
  5. Should also have a good general knowledge of Australia, its history, political system, socio-economic policies and its involvement in international affairs. Applicants must have displayed high standards of personal conduct and attitudes which reflect and are widely accepted in the community.
  6. Must have an outgoing personality and be interested in cultural and/or outdoor pursuits.
Rotary is also looking for young people who will act as personal ambassadors for their families, sponsor communities and District 9790.
 

How are students selected?

Students are selected by Rotary Clubs on the basis of their application and a personal interview. Applications usually close with local Rotary clubs at the end of March. It is acceptable for applicants to apply to more than one Rotary club. Applicants and their parents are interviewed by the Rotary Club to whom application is made. Some Clubs in an area conduct a joint interview after which selections are made. The successful applicant from the Club will then be nominated to the District Youth Exchange Committee who conducts the final interview.
 
The District Committee will arrange the exchange and at the District interview, students will have the opportunity to nominate their preferred countries from those available. Places are limited in all countries and students may not get their preferred choice. Students should be prepared to accept an exchange in any of the countries available.
 

Rotary provides training

Rotary clubs have an important role in the exchange. They provide one of their members to act as Counsellor. The Counsellor's role is to maintain close contact with the student up until departure. This person should also remain in contact with student whilst on their year of exchange and with the student's parents. The District Committee also provides training days for the student and their parents to assist all in preparing for the year of exchange.
 

Are their other obligations?

Students are required to adhere to the rules of the Youth Exchange Program including specific rules applicable to the Host District and country. These rules cover travel, insurance, personal behaviour and the expectations of students who will be acting as Rotary ambassadors.
 

Schooling considerations

First and foremost, youth exchange is an educational experience. During their year of exchange, students are required to complete a year of secondary level education. When students return following their year of exchange, credits may be available for subjects studied whilst on exchange. This needs to be checked with the students own school (and school to which they will return) before departure. The question of at what point in the students secondary schooling they participate is a personal choice. Students have successfully experienced youth exchange after Years 9 or 10 whilst others have interrupted their VCE or HSC years at the end of Year 11 for a year of exchange. The real bonus for education though is the experience students get from exchange itself.
 

What does an exchange cost?

Actual costs vary depending on the country of exchange and the student's personal budget. A 'global fee' is payable to the District Committee which covers the formal parts of the exchange including travel, insurance, attendance at training days, orientation manuals, blazer, business cards and assistance in obtaining visas. Students will receive a monthly allowance from their Host Clubs of approximately $120 (AUD) but families should be prepared for additional day-to-day living expenses. Parents are also required to pay for Rotary organised tours in the Host country (voluntary but most exchange students undertake them), some schooling expenses (as determined by the Host Club) and providing an Emergency Fund of approximately $500 (AUD) redeemable at the end of the exchange.
 

What are the benefits of exchange?

The benefits of exchange are many and varied. Students grow in personal self confidence and maturity, become more open in their views and tolerant, are more self-reliant and accept greater responsibility for themselves and their actions. They also develop leadership skills. Exchange students have to adapt to unfamiliar and different surroundings and ways life and a culture different from what they experience at home. For some it will be the first extended period of separation from their own family. This will bring about many trials and tribulations which they will need to overcome and by doing so they develop many "survival skills".
 
To live away from home for 50 weeks is a demanding yet rewarding experience. It s not easy and requires great strength of character, tolerance and a clear understanding of one' self. The exchange provides a unique opportunity for young Australians to experience at first hand the culture and life style of a different country and a new language. Often the friendships they make will be lifelong and important in achieving the aim of youth exchange: the building of goodwill and understanding between nations.
 

What to do now?

If you are interested in participating in this program, you can submit an expression of interest through www.ryea.org.au and completing the expression of interest form. This Form will be sent to the District Youth Exchange Chair who will forward it to the appropriate local Rotary Club which, after interviews, will make its selection. The Club's successful applicant then completes a final, official application which includes school and medical reports as well as personal information and a copy of the official Youth Exchange Program rules.
 
 
For further information:
Send an email, 
or mail to:
Secretary,
Youth Exchange Committee
Doug Smith (Kay)
Rotary Club of Benalla
e-mail:youthexchange@rotary9790.org.au