As you navigate this FAQ guide, you’ll find answers to some of the most common questions prospective participants, parents, and supporters have about the Rotary Youth Exchange. Whether you’re a student considering going abroad, a parent seeking more information, or someone interested in supporting the program, we aim to provide you with the information you need to make informed decisions and have a memorable experience.

Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Czech Republic, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Indonesia, Mexico, Netherlands,  Poland, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, and South Korea are all countries with which Rotary District 5010 has exchanged students. All  countries are screened and monitored for the safety of our students. This list changes often, so do not focus on the country–focus on the experience!

Rotary Youth Exchange in District 5010 does not allow outbound students to choose the destination country. A Rotary Youth Exchange is focused on personal growth, true enculturation, language acquisition, and making lifelong connections. Every country has something to offer, and the receptive student will have a rewarding exchange regardless of the country. If you are not willing to accept an assignment to any country deemed safe for exchange by Rotary, you should not apply.

The Rotary exchange is 11-12 months, but requires a three year program commitment. During the first year you are preparing for your exchange. The second year  is your exchange year. The third year is your rebound year where you share your experiences with your Alaska friends, family and your community. Outbound students leave in July or August and return the following year.

The cost of the exchange for which the student and parents are responsible is $9,500.00, which includes transportation, insurance, language camps and the  blazer and business cards, which identify you as a Rotary exchange student. Your sponsoring Rotary club will be investing an additional $7000 in providing this experience for you. Other exchange programs cost in excess of $20,000 for similar exchanges. It is a great honor to be selected as a Rotary exchange student, and we  view it as a merit scholarship. Once in your host country your Rotary club will provide you with a monthly stipend for incidental needs. Your host  family will provide you with food and lodging. Within the host country there may be trips available through your school or through Rotary, these are optional and would incur additional cost that you and your family would be responsible for. It is reasonable to budget $2500.00 to allow for tours and side trips in which most students participate, but it is not required and many students only attend one such trip during their exchange. The Outbound Student fee is paid in three installments.

One of the things that sets the Rotary Exchange program apart from others is that generally (but not always) the student will stay with up to 3 families during  their exchange. This allows the student to experience the diversity of households within their host country.

The opportunity to become a Rotary exchange student is awarded after an interview process with the Youth Exchange Committee representatives. We ask each applicant to give a short presentation introducing yourself, as if you were attending your first meeting at your host Rotary Club in a foreign country. The committee will then question the student to help determine individual strengths, which assist the committee in making their final selection. Your parents will also be interviewed. Only one student from each club will be awarded an exchange opportunity, and another may be selected as an alternate in the event the primary student chooses not to accept. The Rotary Club will expend significant effort and funding to provide this opportunity for each student. It is extremely important that you understand the process, and that you understand the effort and commitment that you are making before you apply.

Once the outbound student position has been awarded, the Rotary Youth Exchange Committee will be notified. You will then be asked to fill out a  long form application, which includes having a physical examination, collecting letters of reference, teacher recommendations and other necessary pieces. This application will be submitted to the Rotary District Youth Committee,

accompanied by the first payment of 1/3 of the fee. You will be required to attend the outbound orientation in January/February in Anchorage. This is four days of interaction with inbound students from all over the world as well as instruction and orientation with respect to passports, visas, immunizations, and behavior expectations for exchange students. At this orientation you will learn about your assigned country.

You will then receive notification of the names of your first host family. From January to departure there will be required regular meetings for you and your parents to  further prepare you for your year abroad. You will be required to complete a language course. Before you know it your day of departure will be here and you are  ready for an experience of a lifetime!!

ABSOLUTELY NOT! We have learned over the 30+ years of administering the program, a visit from Mom/Dad/Sister/Brother/Uncles/Aunts makes the student experience very challenging. It sets the student up for overwhelming anxiety, creates an unanticipated burden on the foreign country Host Family, and is quite disruptive to the student experience. For this reason, we have a firm stance in our policy that states “This is a student exchange and will be terminated immediately if parents visit while on exchange.”

This may seem like a harsh rule, but our experience and the voice of our rebound students confirm it is the best for the program and the student’s well-being while on exchange. HOWEVER, we STRONGLY encourage parents to consider traveling back to your host country with you at some point in the future to visit your host families and friends.

Host families are the foundation of our exchange program. Rotary would love your parents to consider hosting a student in your absence or upon your return. This is not a requirement for application. We do require outbound students to assist us by discussing hosting with your friends’ parents and recommending three  potential host families.

This MUST be addressed by you and your school guidance counselor prior to departure. It is possible that some credit may be allowed by your school, however, YOU must  make arrangements before you leave on exchange and return with a transcript of your studies abroad. Rotary encourages students to think of your year abroad  as an additional educational experience, not necessarily a replacement for the year you are abroad. College entrance counselors highly regard an exchange year on your resume.

It is required that all returning (rebound) students give presentations to their host Rotary Club and local schools. It is also required that all rebound students attend a three day reorientation meeting held in August following their return. Rotary considers this program as ambassadorial. You were a representative of the United States of America in a foreign land and upon your return you will be expected to share your newfound knowledge of your host country and culture with your friends, classmates and family. Your exchange is really never never-ending, as you will be sharing your experiences with your friends and acquaintances for the rest of your life!