Why should I become an exchange student?

Exchange students reap many rewards from their yearlong experience. These include:

  • Making lifelong friends in their new culture, with host families, with students from around the world and with other exchange students in Rotary District 5010
  • Learning to represent their country, state, city, school, age group and culture as an "ambassador" to another country
  • Learning a foreign language
  • Gaining an appreciation for another culture, and a deeper understanding of the world
  • Gaining a new appreciation for their home culture and what it has to offer
  • Gaining a better understanding of themselves
  • Learning to adapt to a new way of life, new families and new culture
  • Building leadership skills
  • Making memories that last a lifetime

Who are we?

The sponsors of Rotary Youth Exchange in Alaska are the participating Rotary clubs in Rotary District 5010, which covers the region.

A Rotary district is a group of clubs in the same general geographic area linked for administrative purposes.

District 5010 is one of the hundreds of districts in the international service organization Rotary International, consisting of 1.2 members worldwide in 33,000 Rotary clubs.

Rotary clubs are service organizations that strive to improve the quality of life in their communities, promote high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace.

Rotarians, members of these clubs, are business, professional and community leaders who volunteer their time and talents to serve others. Rotary Youth Exchange is only one of their service activities.

Rotary International, the association of Rotary clubs throughout the world, encourages clubs and districts to undertake youth exchange activities. RI offers support through publications and administration relevant to every Rotary district. Districts operate their youth exchange programs independently of RI but within a policy framework to support student safety and well-being.

To locate the nearest Rotary club, use the Club Locator at www.rotary.org

What qualities are we looking for in a Rotary Youth Exchange student?

Ideal candidates are young, open-minded individuals who demonstrate leadership qualities that will make them excellent cultural ambassadors for their country and the Rotary club and district that sponsor them. Applicants are not required to be involved with Rotary in any way before applying. Children of Rotarians are welcome to apply but are not given preference over children of non-Rotarians. Rotary encourages those with disabilities to apply.

What types of exchanges are available?

Long Term school year exchange is open to high school students ages 14 — 17. Students go on exchange during their junior or sophomore year, and are usually 16-17 years old. Students live with more than one family in their host country, and are required to attend school.

Short Term summer exchange is open to high school students of all grade levels, including just graduated. This is a family to family experience where each family hosts for about 4 weeks, and the teens travel between the families.

When and how do I apply for Long Term Youth Exchange?

Applications for our Long Term or school year exchange program are received and processed by local Rotary clubs in October for the following academic year. The program is highly selective and the application process starts with submitting an application, followed by interviews with students and parents. If selected, students are asked for additional documentation and begin an extensive orientation program. interested students are encouraged to contact local Rotarians to learn more, or to submit the contact form.

When and how do I apply for Short Term Summer Youth Exchange?

Applications for our Short Term Exchange Program are received and processed by individual clubs starting in October. The program is open to teens that want a month-long experience in a foreign country and are willing to host a teen from that country for a similar amount of time.

Interested candidates should click here, and are encouraged to contact local Rotarians to learn more or to submit the contact form to start a conversation. After selection by a local club, a more detailed application will be required of the family, to be submitted with the appropriate fee.

Where can I go on an exchange?

The Rotary Youth Exchange program is active in over 100 countries and geographical areas. District 5010 exchanges students with roughly 20 countries each year. Selected students are placed in communities where a local club has agreed to host a participant AND send a student out on an exchange. The philosophy of the program is that the success of the exchange depends not on the country but on the students, their attitude, preparedness and willingness to make their year a success.

How much does it cost?

For the Long Term exchange D5010 uses a flat-fee system, which is usually around $8,000 per student but is subject to change each year. The fee covers the costs of round-trip transportation, visa, health & liability insurance, training orientations prior to and after the exchange, language learning tools, any fees required by the hosting country, administration and the signature Rotary blazer & business cards. The fee is payable in three installments before the exchange year begins. Parents are responsible for clothing, spending money, optional Rotary sponsored travel and a $500 emergency fund, held by the hosting Rotary club and refunded if not used. Host families provide room and board. The hosting Rotary club covers school tuition and provides a modest monthly stipend.

The Short Term program fee is $600, which covers administration and travel medical and liability insurance. The family is responsible for all other costs associated with travel, hosting the incoming student, passport, and spending money.

What are the rules?

Each district and club sets rules that students are expected to follow to preserve the exchange structure and ensure safety. To help students understand the rules and expectations, districts conduct mandatory program orientation sessions. In addition to club and district rules, Rotary International has set forth the following expectations:

  • Follow the local laws and customs in the host country
  • Follow the host district and club rules
  • Follow the host family's rules, such as curfews and household chores
  • Do not drive or operate a motorized vehicle of any kind

If a student disobeys agreed-upon rules or an insurmountable problem arises, the host district may decide that it is in the student's best interest to return home early.

What if I am not sure if I want to go on an exchange?

It is normal to be anxious when considering living abroad for an extended period of time. Students must be sure that they are comfortable with the program before they leave on an exchange. Students who have serious reservations about any aspect of the exchange or feel that they cannot meet their obligations should seek the counsel of a local Rotarian or former program participant. Youth exchange is a wonderful opportunity but a major commitment, and students should feel fully comfortable before they embark on their exchange.

Do I need to be fluent in my host country's language?

Though most host districts do not require students to be fluent in the local language on arrival, students are strongly encouraged to develop a basic competency before departure, and continue their studies in their host country. Language proficiency is sometimes needed to obtain a visa, and host districts may require exchange students to take language classes after they arrive. An ability to understand the language will help students become comfortable with their new surroundings and ease homesickness. Rotary D5010 provides language learning tools for students.