Youth Exchange

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One of Rotary International’s greatest programs for young people is the Rotary Youth Exchange. It allows foreign students to come here and local students to travel abroad to spend time in other countries learning the customs, the geography, the educational systems, and the languages, all while creating life experiences.

It’s not always smooth sailing — in a few extreme cases students have been sent home for serious infractions of the rules — but, the overwhelming number of people who have participated over the years are emphatic in their praise of their journeys.

Here are some videos of students sharing their experiences, host families explaining the process for that role, and anecdotes and tips from people going to, or just returning from, experiences in various countries.

If you are interested in finding out how to get information on the local Rotary program supported by the Southern Rensselaer County Rotary Club, simply email us at, and we’ll provide details.

Below the videos, you’ll find a Q&A section outlining the Rotary Youth Exchange program.


Are you interested in learning a new language or expanding your current proficiency,  meeting new people and exploring a new culture, experiencing everyday life in another nation through the eyes of a resident rather than being simply a tourist?

Rotary Youth Exchange is the opportunity of a lifetime for the more than 8,000 students who participate each year. By sharing your own culture and embracing a new one, you help foster global understanding, and learn a great deal about yourself and your home country in the process.

Q: What is a Rotary Youth Exchange?

A: Youth Exchange is a study-abroad opportunity for young people who spend anywhere from a few weeks to a full academic year as an international student hosted by local Rotary clubs and families.

Q: Is an exchange right for me?

A: Exchanges are for people ages 15 to 19 who:

• Have demonstrated leadership in their school and community
• Are flexible and willing to try new things
• Are open to cultural differences
• Can serve as an ambassador for their own country

Q: How much does it cost?

A: Costs vary from country to country. Local Rotary clubs generously host students and provide room and board with host families plus a small monthly stipend. Participants and their families are responsible for:

• Round-trip airfare
• Personal insurance
• Travel documents (passports, visas, etc.)
• Spending money, additional travel and tour fees

Q: How can I apply?

A: Contact your local Rotary club to see if it participates and to learn more about the types of programs offered, and the specific application process required. Because the selection and orientation process can be lengthy, we suggest you apply 6­–12 months before you plan to leave.

Q: Can I host an exchange student?

A: Hosting an exchange student can be an incredibly rewarding experience for your family, providing an international experience without leaving home. Host families provide room and board and share their lives with exchange students, involving them in family, community, and cultural activities. Your local Rotary club can give you details on what is involved. And, check out the videos above to hear some real-life experiences.