For almost 100 years, Rotary International has arranged high school student exchanges around the globe. Today, the Rotary Youth Exchange program is one of the largest and most respected high school exchange student programs in the world. Each year, nearly 9000 high school students participate in Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE), and we have now launched the program for Georgia students and families in district 6900 to participate in exchanges as well.
The program is a three-year experience for high school students. In the first year, RYE Outbound students are selected and complete a series of Rotary orientation and training sessions over eight months. They attend language camp and become conversant in their target language and work to achieve new cultural, presentation, and life skills while learning all about Rotary. In the second year, students spend approximately eleven months overseas, living with local host families, studying at a local high school, and participating regularly in local Rotary meetings and events. In the third year of the experience, students become ROTEX members (former RYE students) and visit Rotary clubs back in their home district to make presentations about their experience, and to mentor future RYE Outbound students. The participating students and/or their families pay the costs of participating in the program.
We are currently looking for additional clubs in District 6900 that would like to sponsor either an “outbound student” (from Georgia to another country) or an “inbound student” (from another country to Georgia), or even one of each, for the 2019/2020 school year. The costs to the club to sponsor an outbound and/or an inbound student are minimal. The primary requirements for a club to participate in the program are to have a sincere interest in promoting the ideals of the program, and to appoint a minimum of two dedicated volunteers, who must each pass a criminal background check, and complete some mandatory training on the program. Those volunteer positions are called Youth Exchange Officer and Youth Exchange Counselor.
Outbound Student Program (Rotary Youth Exchange Scholarship)
Applications for the 2019/2020 school year will open on August 1, and the application deadline is November 1, 2018. Student applicants should be 14 – 17 years old at the time that they apply. They should be near the top of their class, mature for their age, and have some proven leadership and foreign language acquisition skills. The program is open to all qualified students who reside in the district, including children and grandchildren of Rotarians, although no special preference is given to students with Rotarian family members. Students pay a non-refundable application fee of $150.00 to be considered for the program. The application process is highly competitive and only the very best candidates are selected. Applications are reviewed and interviews are conducted with student applicants and their families in November, by club level and district level trained program volunteers. Successful outbound student candidates are selected in December and they learn their assigned exchange country by January 1. (Rotary, and not the students, selects the country). From January – July, outbound student candidates study their target language, attend two mandatory training sessions, learn about Rotary and participate in Rotary events. Outbound student candidates who successfully complete their eight-month preparation period and become conversant in their new target language will graduate in July, and depart for their Rotary exchange year in August. For the next 11 months, the Georgia outbound students will live in their assigned country with three different host families, who are carefully selected by our Rotarian partners overseas, and will attend high school, participate in Interact and Rotary meetings as well as service projects. Upon their return they will attend “rebound” training and orientation, and then visit Rotary clubs in the district over the next year to make presentations about their experience. The all-inclusive cost for the program, which is paid by the student and/or his or her family, is a flat fee of $5500.00. There is no cost to a Rotary club to award a Rotary Youth Exchange Scholarship to an outbound student in the Rotary Youth Exchange program.
Inbound Student Program
The process described above is mirrored, almost identically, at our partner districts in more than 30 countries overseas. After completing their Rotary, cultural, and language training for several months, successful inbound students from overseas arrive in Georgia to spend one school year living with three families in the same Georgia high school district, while perfecting their English, participating in Interact, and attending meetings of their host Rotary Club. Host Rotary clubs in Georgia recruit, select, and vet, qualified host family candidates in the local community. (Rotarian families may apply to be considered as host families, but no special preference is given to Rotarian families). Students spend three to four months with each of three host families during their year in Georgia. Students also participate in three special events during the year together with more than 70 other Inbound Students from eight other neighboring districts in our Zone. Those events are Inbound Orientation and Training Weekend, Walt Disney World Weekend, and Sea Camp Weekend. The cost for the inbound exchange program, which is paid by the student and/or his or her family, varies by country. The cost to the hosting Rotary Club in Georgia to receive an inbound student for one year is approximately $1750.00. (This is a valid use of Rotary charitable funds.)
Additional information for Rotary Clubs, exchange student candidates or host family candidates
We operate the Rotary Youth Exchange program in District 6900 as part of our Zone’s larger multi-district organization known as Rotary Youth Exchange Florida, Inc. More information about the program can be found at ryeflorida.org. You may also contact District 6900’s Rotary Youth Exchange Chairman, Mike Parks at firstname.lastname@example.org or at +1 404 219-0339.
Statement of Conduct for Working With Youth
District 6900 strives to create and maintain a safe environment for all youth who participate in Rotary activities. To the best of their ability, Rotarians, Rotarians’ spouses and partners, and other volunteers must safeguard the children and young people they come into contact with and protect them from physical, sexual, and emotional abuse.