Your World Is Waiting.
And it is your world. When you go on a Rotary Youth Exchange program, the experience you have is mostly up to you. Just like in life, a positive outlook matters.
Are you the type of person who can make the best of tough situations? Are you adaptable? Do you like new adventures and meeting new people? Are you curious about other languages and cultures? Do you like to try new foods? Can you represent your family, your community, and your country in a way that won’t just make them proud, but make you proud?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, being an outbound exchange student might be the right fit for you. Are you ready to find out?
Going on an outbound exchange? Consider these ideas and suggestions.
Why Participate in an Exchange
Exposure to new cultures and ways of life can foster a better understanding between people from different lands. That understanding can be the foundation upon which lasting peace and harmony can someday rest. Rotary Youth Exchange provides thousands of young people with the opportunity to meet people from other lands and to experience their cultures, thus planting the seeds for a lifetime of international understanding.
Students reap many rewards from an exchange experience including:
- Benefiting from immersion in another culture while adapting to a new way of life
- Improving foreign language skills in some instances
- Making lifelong friends, not only within the host country but also with other students from around the world
- Learning about the practices and accomplishments of people in other countries
- Returning home with a greater sense of the world and a deeper understanding of themselves and their culture
- Assuming leadership roles shaped by lessons from the experience
- Improving resumés for college or job applications
- Building memories that may last forever
Participants benefit their community by serving as an ambassador for their country and community.
Ideal Youth Exchange candidates are young, open-minded individuals who demonstrate leadership qualities that will enable them to become excellent cultural ambassadors for their country and the Rotary club or district that supports them. Applicants are not required to be involved with Rotary in any way before applying. Children of Rotarians are welcome to participate, but are not given any preference. Students with disabilities are encouraged to apply.
Our Current Exchange Partners
Recommendations for a Successful Exchange
- Learn ahead of time as much of the language of your host country as possible, and use the language regularly when abroad. Teachers, host parents, Rotary club members, and others you meet in the community will appreciate the effort. It will go a long way in your gaining acceptance in the community and with those who will become lifelong friends.
- You should communicate with your first host family before leaving your home country. The family’s information will be provided to you by your host club or district before your departure.
- Respect your host’s wishes. Become an integral part of the host family, assuming duties and responsibilities normal for a student of your age or for children in the family.
- Attend Rotary-sponsored events and host family events, and show an interest in these activities. Volunteer to be involved; do not wait to be asked. Lack of interest on your part is detrimental to your exchange and can have a negative impact on future exchanges.
- Get involved in your school and community activities. Plan your recreation and spare-time activities around your school and community friends. Don’t spend all your time with other exchange students. If there is a local Interact club, you are encouraged to join it.
- Choose friends in the community carefully. Ask for and heed the advice of host families, counselors, and school personnel in choosing friends.
- Do not borrow money. Pay any bills promptly. Ask permission to use the family phone or computer, keep track of all calls and time on the Internet, and reimburse your host family each month for the costs you incur.
- If you are offered an opportunity to go on a trip or attend an event, make sure you understand any costs you must pay and your responsibilities before you go.
Top 10 Tips on How to Be a Successful Exchange Student
- Do not ask to do things that you know you may not do. Accept the fact that rules exist and abide by them.
- Write thank-you notes and express appreciation often. Anytime someone entertains you or gives you something, write a thank-you.
- Get involved. Stay engaged. Share news from home with your host family. Be willing to try new things.
- When arriving at a new host family, immediately ask your host parents about the rules and responsibilities you have as a member of their family.
- Offer to cook a meal for your host family at least once.
- Learn to strike a happy balance between spending too much time alone in your room and spending too much time with your host family. Remember everybody needs some time to be alone; you do, and so do your host parents and brothers and sisters. But nobody likes an exchange student who spends much of the spare time alone. Be creative with your spare time.
- Always make sure your host family knows where you are. Be sure to inform them where you are going and when you will return. If you are late, your family will worry. Call them if you cannot return home by the expected time.
- If your host parents are doing a project around the house, offer to help. Always offer to help set the table or clean up after meals.
- Make your bed in the morning, and keep your room neat. Coordinate your laundry schedule with the rest of the family.
- Don’t spend too much discretionary time on the computer, browsing, Skyping, and such. Never text while at the dinner table. If being driven by an adult, do not talk on the cell phone or text during all or most of the trip. The driver is not a chauffeur.
General Advice on Packing
- YE participants may find that clothing styles abroad differ somewhat from those at home. Generally, participants coming to Colorado from abroad will be able to supplement their wardrobe with American-style clothes at a surprisingly low cost.
- Colorado participants may find that purchasing new clothes abroad to be quite expensive. Going native in terms of fashion may prove prohibitively costly. Therefore, take exactly what you will need for yourself, leaving room for small gifts and souvenirs for your host families.
- Pack coordinated clothes.
- Take clothes that fit a wide range of occasions, including formal. For instance, pack one pair of dress shoes.
- Don’t take five pairs of shoes. You won’t wear them.
- If your pants fit perfectly before you go, they may not fit properly after several months.
- Closet space abroad may be limited!
- Don’t bring non-essential electrical appliances and electronics. Make sure that you have the appropriate plug adapters and converters for the appliances and electronics that you take.
- If you wear contact lenses, pack extra solution and lenses, and take a pair of eyeglasses.
- In your carry-ons, pack essential and important items. Consider taking a bulky or heavy clothing item onto the plane. A heavy sweater, if needed, may serve as pillow or blanket for the flight. Carrying it onto the plane will free weight and space in the luggage or carry-on.
- Be prepared to have to repack your carry-ons after you go through security.
- Make sure you carry on your person telephone numbers for your host family and for important Rotary contacts abroad, your passport, ticket, and money and/or credit cards.
- Think about the old travel adage: When preparing to travel, lay out all your clothes and all your money. Then take half the clothes and twice the money.
Note: For your traveling and for your flights to and from your host country, be sure to dress as a Rotary Youth Exchange student. Wear your blazer. This will help other RYE students identify you. If there are any Rotarians in the airport, they will be able to identify you, as well, and will likely approach you and offer their assistance if needed.
Bring Gifts and Souvenirs
Bring gifts for your host families, your friends, your teachers, or anyone else you expect to meet. These do not have to be expensive, but something typical of Colorado or the Southwest is suggested. Consider postcards of the Rocky Mountains or Denver Broncos gear. In addition, smaller tokens of appreciation should be brought for others who may assist you during the year.
For Rotary, don’t forget about club banners. Every Rotary club has a banner, and exchanging these banners is an important function of Rotary. Your sponsoring Rotary club should provide you with a few club banners to present to your host club and any club you visit on your exchange. Don’t forget to bring the banners given to you back to your sponsoring club when you return.
Consider Host House Rules
Consider some of the following and see if they apply in your host family:
- If you opened it, close it.
- If you turned it on, turn it off.
- If you unlocked it, lock it.
- If you broke it, admit it.
- If you cannot fix it, call someone who can.
- If it has value for you, take care.
- If you borrowed it, give it back.
- If you dirtied it, clean it.
- If you removed it, get it back.
- If you don’t know how to use it, leave it alone.
- If it is not broken, don’t fix it.
Ask First Night Questions
Whether it’s the first night of your entire exchange or the first night in your last host family, always ask a list of “first night questions” so you can better understand your new family, their expectations, and how to best navigate your new living situations.
A list of suggested questions can be found in all languages here.
You may also want to discuss your goals & expectations with your Rotary Club. A list of suggested second-day questions can be found in all languages here.
Other Students Will Follow You
While you are being hosted as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student in a foreign country, please remember that you are an ambassador for your family, Rotary and for your home country. This comes with a lot of responsibility. Bear in mind that other students will follow in your footsteps, and how you conduct yourself will often determine whether your host family, host club, and even your host country decides to host another Rotary exchange student in the future.