The Rockport Rotary Club is pleased to announce that it will sponsor a youth exchange program for RHS students. The Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) program is a powerful force in promoting peace and understanding worldwide by exposing students to different cultures and opportunities. The Rotary program has operated successfully for over 75 years and now, through our own club, offers Rockport High School students an opportunity to participate in an established program at reasonable cost. These materials will provide you with an overview of the program and the responsibilities of the students, host family and the local Rockport Rotary Club.
History of Rotary Youth Exchange
Since 1927, students and host families all over the world have had their horizons broadened and their lives enriched by the generosity of Rotary's Youth Exchange program. Administered by Rotary clubs, districts and multidistrict groups, the program today involves more than 82 countries and over 8,000 students each year.
The first documented exchanges date back to 1927, when the Rotary Club of Nice, France, initiated exchanges with European students. Exchanges between clubs in California, USA, and Latin American countries began in 1939, and exchange activities spread to the eastern United States in 1958. In 1972, the RI Board of Directors agreed to recommend Youth Exchange to clubs worldwide as a worthwhile international activity that promotes global peace and understanding.
Ingrid Brown has volunteered as Rockport Rotary Club's Youth Exchange Officer. As the YEO, she coordinates the program, assists students with the application process, and identifies host families to provide accommodations for our inbound students. Contact information is in the sidebar at the top of this page.
FAQS for Potential Host Families
Why host a Rotary Youth Exchange Student?
Hosting a Youth Exchange student from another country is a challenge — and an opportunity. Involvement with an exchange student challenges a host family to become familiar with another culture, while providing the opportunity to share a student's hopes and ambitions. These challenges and opportunities promise to enrich the lives of every member of your family.
Because Rotary exchanges with more countries than any other exchange organization, you could have a student from one of 163 countries living in your home. Not only will you provide an unforgettable service to a student from abroad, but you also will educate your family about the world around them.
What are the host family responsibilities?
As a Rotary Youth Exchange host family, it is your responsibility to provide room and board for your exchange student. You are also expected to exercise general parental supervision over the student just as you would your own children, and involve him or her in daily household chores and activities.
However, most host families' involvement with their student does not stop at room and board. The families often share their native background while also learning about their visitors' culture. This does not mean that you have to arrange elaborate entertainment, but simply make the student a part of your family. Give him or her the opportunity to share in the same aspects of your family life that most teenage students experience in your culture.
Other suggested host family responsibilities include:
- meeting your exchange student on arrival in your country and making the student feel at home as part of the family;
- helping the student achieve language mastery;
- involving the student in obligations similar to those established for your own family members;
- helping the student meet Rotary obligations, which usually include attending Rotary functions, including club and/or district meetings;
- seeing that the student meets other young people;
- providing a safe environment for the student and ensuring the student's safety;
- being tolerant of differences and willing to change your own ideas.
What are the student’s responsibilities?
First and foremost, students are ambassadors of the Rotary club that sponsored them and of their country. They are expected to follow the Youth Exchange program rules, be open to new experiences, and strive to learn the language of the host country.
The student and his/her own family will assume certain financial obligations. These include round-trip air transportation, clothing, health insurance, administrative fees and incidental expenses.
What are the specific Rotarian responsibilities?
Rotarians work to take care of the logistics of the exchange. As all Youth Exchanges are carried out at the local level, the local Rotary club and district will arrange school enrollment, tuition and other educational matters with the local secondary school (for long-term exchanges). All program volunteers are devoted to the safety of the students, and the host club and district maintain policies and procedures to protect the students. Local Rotarians also introduce the student to the other club members and organize some social and cultural functions for the student to attend.
For long-term exchanges, the hosting club or district appoints a Rotarian counselor and arranges a monthly allowance for the student. The Rotarian counselor maintains contact with the host family and the student throughout the exchange.
While Rotary International offers support to local Rotary Youth Exchange programs through publications and suggested guidelines, Rotary districts and clubs run their programs independently of Rotary International. Therefore, each club or district program has its own specific rules for youth exchange participants to follow.
Must I be a member of Rotary to participate as a host family?
No, one need not be a Rotarian to be a host family.
Must I/we have children to participate as a host family?
No. We are looking for people who enthusiastic and willing to host a student for 3 months of the year.
How are host families screened and selected?
If your family is interested in hosting a Rotary Youth Exchange student, please contact please contact Ingrid Brown, Rockport Rotary's Youth Exchange Officer (see contact information in the sidebar at the top of this page).
To ensure the safety and well being of students, as well as the success of each exchange, host families are carefully screened. All host families are required to fill out an application, which will then be reviewed by a committee of Rockport Rotarians. Then, a member of the Youth Exchange committee will come to your home for an in-home interview. During this interview, all family members are expected to be present. The in-home interview helps the chairperson determine the enthusiasm and willingness of all family members to host a student.
Does an exchange student need to have his/her own bedroom?
It is not required that you provide the student with a private bedroom in your home; however, a single bed is essential.
Why do long-term exchange students stay with three host families during their stay?
Because the primary goal of the Rotary Youth Exchange program is to promote cultural understanding, the best way for students to experience a wide cross-section of host country life is to live with more than one host family. Switching families during the student's stay also helps the student's ability to adapt to new environments and improve communication skills.
Can the student go on vacation with our family?
Most Rotary clubs and districts have strict rules about where and when a student may travel. Students are not necessarily prohibited from accompanying your family on vacation, but usually require written permission from their natural parents and the hosting Rotary club and district.
In addition, if you are planning to leave the country on your vacation, it is advisable that you check the status of your student's visa. Some students are permitted entry into only one country entry during their stay.
Will our family be compensated monetarily by Rotary for hosting a student?
Rotary is not able to provide any monetary compensation for families that choose to host students. The reason why the Rotary Youth Exchange program does not provide compensation for host families is that it helps keep overall program costs low. Rotary Youth Exchange is the most affordable program of its kind, and is run entirely by dedicated volunteers. As such, students are not required to pay any kind of placement fee to participate in the program. This enables financially disadvantaged students and students from developing countries to share in the exchange experience.
In the United States, families who host students may be eligible for a tax deduction. For more information, consult your tax attorney.
How are the exchange students selected?
It is standard practice for local Rotary districts and clubs to screen young people interested in Youth Exchange using detailed applications and interviews. This process helps to ensure that only highly responsible and mature students are sent on an exchange. Program administrators in the student's home country generally assess an applicant's scholastic record, linguistic ability, and general adaptability, among other qualities.
FAQs for Potential Rockport High School Exchange Students
Who is eligible to participate in Rotary Youth Exchange programs?
Rotary Youth Exchange is open to high school students between the ages of 15 and 18 ½ who demonstrate above average academic achievement, maturity, flexibility, and a sense of adventure. The Rockport Rotary Club will annually sponsor: Provide 1-2 RHS students annually an opportunity to study in a foreign high school as the guest of a Rotary club and host families in that country (outbound student). Provide 1-2 high school students from other countries the chance each year to come to RHS and live with host families (inbound student).
What types of exchanges are available for Rockport students?
Each year, local Rotary districts and clubs worldwide arrange thousands of international Youth Exchanges for high school-aged students. The Rockport Rotary Club sponsors two principal types of exchanges: Long-term exchanges usually last for an academic year. During your stay, you will live with more than one host family — typically three different families for three months each — and attend high school. Participants depart in August and return at the end of the school year. Short-term exchanges vary from a few weeks to three months. You will not attend school on a short-term exchange, but you will most likely live with a host family. On a short-term exchange, you will live with another family abroad. This type of program can be arranged for individual students or groups of students. A typical short-term exchange may involve you spending a few weeks living with a family in Australia, while your host "brother" or "sister" lives with your family.
What countries are available for exchanges?
Every effort is made to place students in the country of their preference. Virtually every politically stable country in the world has a host program, including all European countries and most Central and South America nations; Japan, India, Mexico, Israel, Indonesia and Malaysia.
Why participate in a Rotary Youth Exchange Program?
"To foster world peace, international understanding, and good-will."
Where can get more information about the youth exchange program?
Contact Ingrid Brown, our Youth Exchange Officer, or follow the links we've gathered for you. See the sidebars at the top of this page for contact information and links. You can also visit the main Rotary International website for more information.