"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 and the Yukon Territory 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?

In Rotary District 5010, we offer both Long-Term (about ten months) and Short-Term (Two month Summer) Exchanges.

The 10-to-12-month exchange is open to students ages 14-17, who are attending high school full-time. Most students are 16-17 years old during their exchange year, and students cannot be 18 or over at any time during that year. Students live with more than one family in their host country and are required to attend school. Long-term exchanges, which usually start in the summer, may be extended to include part or all of the holiday and vacation periods immediately before or after the academic year.

Short-Term Exchanges are a person to person experience where families host a teen for about four weeks, then the teens travel to the foreign country for a similar visit. Applicants can choose the country they wish to exchange with, then contacts are made through Rotary to facilitate the experience. Applications are due in January for the summer program.


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

Applications for our Long Term Exchange Program are received and processed by individual clubs in October. The program is highly selective and the application process can begin more than a year before departure. Interested candidates should click here to fill out the Initial Application Form (due October 15). Interested students are encouraged to contact local Rotarians to learn more. After selection by a local Rotary Club, a more detailed application will be required and submitted with the appropriate fee.


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

Applications for our Short Term Exchange Program for summer are received and processed by individual clubs in January. The program is open to teens that want a month-long experience in a foreign country and are willing to host an individual for a similar length of time. Interested candidates should click here to fill out the Initial Application Form (due January 31). Interested students are encouraged to contact local Rotarians to learn more. After selection by a local Rotary Club, a more detailed application will be required and 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. Applicants may state a preference for particular countries available to students in District 5010, but placement in that country is not guaranteed. The philosophy of the program is that the success of the exchange depends not on the country but on the students, and their attitude, preparedness and willingness to make their year a success.


How much does it cost?

For the Long Term Program District 5010 has a flat-rate fee system, which is usually around $7,400 per student but is subject to change each year. The fee is payable in three installments: November, March and June before the exchange year begins. The fee includes two or three group orientations, visas, round-trip air transportation, health and travel insurance, a starter slide show or PowerPoint presentation, business cards and a blazer. Parents are responsible for clothing, spending money, optional District-arranged tours and a $500 emergency fund held by the hosting club, which will be returned if not needed. For long-term exchanges, the host club will pay any school tuition fees for required academic programs, orientations or language courses required by the hosting country and provide a modest monthly allowance ($100 U.S. or rough equivalent in other countries). Host families selected by the host club provide room and board.

For the Short Term Program the fee is $400 which covers administration and insurance. The family is responsible for all other costs associated with training and travel, hosting the incoming student, passport and visa fees if applicable, 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 enroll in classes 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.