Currently there are five clubs within District 7930 that are participating in the Rotary Youth Exchange program:
- Beverly Rotary Club
- Hamilton-Wenham Rotary Club
- Ipswich Rotary Club
- Marblehead Rotary Club
- Rockport Rotary Club
If you would like to join those clubs and become involved in Rotary Youth Exchange with your own club, please continue reading below....
Rotary’s Youth Exchange Program presents opportunities for students to advance their knowledge and world understanding by allowing them to visit a different country - either for a few weeks in the summer or for an entire year of high-school. Participating students live with host families in their target country for about 3-4 weeks in the summer (short-term program) or for about 3 1/2 months during the school year (the long-term program relies on three host families, each hosting the student for a third of the school year) under the sponsorship of a local Rotary Club.
It is easy to join the Rotary Youth Exchange program, because it can be administered by just two volunteers from your Rotary Club. One person acts as the Youth Exchange Officer, who provides the application paperwork to interested high school students, works with host families, and with the school, and a second person acts as the Counselor, who provides guidance to the student and is available as a contact in case of any problems that may arise.
District 7930 encompasses 48 Rotary Clubs in Northeastern Massachusetts and Salem, NH, but only seven clubs are actively participating in the Youth Exchange program at this time. We have put together this short primer to introduce the Rotary Youth Exchange program to your club and to encourage your club to join our efforts to foster world peace and international understanding – one student at a time.
If you would like us to present the Rotary Youth Exchange program to your club, please contact us.
We do recommend that new clubs who are interested in participating Rotary Youth Exchange start by participating in the short-term program, because it is much easier to administer, and doesn't require the participation and support of the local high-school.
We will, therefore, primarily discuss the short-term youth exchange program here on this website. If you are interested in hosting a long-term youth-exchange student, please contact us for more information.
How does the Rotary Youth-exchange Short-Term program work?
The ESSEX Short-Term Family-to Family Exchange arranges for the student’s family to host a matching Rotary applicant (between the ages of 15 and 18 1/2 years) usually during the summer. Exchanges can be arranged between the two families for not less than 3 weeks and not more than 6 weeks. The exchange in each country is for an equal amount of time except for Argentina, Australia, Brazil, India, and South Africa. These countries will not exchange with us unless we host their applicants for a minimum of 8 weeks during their summer months. During this period, the student must not have a job or commitments that would interfere with the obligations of hosting.
Cost of travel, the ESSEX fee, Rotary District fees, Rotary insurance, clothing and personal expenses are the responsibility of the participating students and their families. There is no cost to the Rotary Club!
Travel to the host country is arranged by each student’s family communicating with the other student’s family, determining dates, times and airlines to be booked for the exchange. Frequently, students who exchange first accompany their host sibling on the return flight home.
Qualifications for Short-Term Exchange Students
Any student, age 15-18-1/2, of good character who possesses a warm personality and a desire to live abroad and host in return is eligible for Rotary’s Short-Term Exchange. Candidates should be adaptable and flexible, well-mannered and want to experience life in other countries and cultures. Children of both Rotarians and non-Rotarians are eligible.
One possible way to announce and advertise the program is to present to the Interact club at your local high school – this can also be a great partnership for word-of-mouth advertising and can lay the groundwork for a later participation in the long-term exchange program.
Responsibilities of Outbound Short-Term Exchange Students
Students who are sent abroad under the Rotary Youth Exchange Short-Term Program are required to accept the following obligations:
- Students are expected to obey the laws of the host country at all times and accept the discipline of their host parents (if they don't, their exchange will be terminated and they and their parents will bear any travel surcharges).
- Students are required to sign a written statement that they will not, under any circumstances, drive a motor vehicle while under the supervision of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program.
- Students may be required to address Rotary Clubs, other service organizations, youth groups and community groups during their stay in the host country and will, on their return to the United States, be expected to address the sending Rotary Club to report on their experience as an exchange student.
- During their stay abroad, students may be expected to attend any official Rotary and Youth Exchange Program functions as directed by their host club.
- Students are ambassadors for their home countries and must at all times behave in a manner which will reflect positively on their families, communities and country.
- Students must travel directly to and return directly from their host countries. Students are not allowed to stay in the host country after the termination of the exchange period.
Rotary Club Responsibilities
In order to participate in the program, the Rotary Club needs to have one of its members volunteer as Youth Exchange Officer (YEO) for the club. For participation in the short-term program only, it is usually sufficient to just have one volunteer. If a later participation in the long-term program is desired, then it might make sense to form a Youth Exchange Committee at the Rotary Club already now. The minimum number of volunteers for the long-term program is two: one YEO and one Counselor.
To get started in the Youth Exchange program, the YEO needs to fill out an online volunteer application form at https://yehub.net/ESX-volapp which needs to include three personal references and a criminal background check. This is required by Rotary International rules and State Department guidelines for the protection of the young people entrusted into the care of our program. This application must be renewed every two years. Time required to complete the application is about 15-20 minutes.
Next the YEO needs to complete an online training course from the Department of State, that contains important information on visa regulations, placement of students, host family interactions, etc. This online training course ends with an online test that needs to be passed in order to get certified by the Department of State. This certification process must be renewed every year. Time required to complete the online training and exam is about one hour.
The YEO should participate in a monthly district-wide YEO meeting. For district 7930 this meeting is on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at 7:30 AM at Panera at the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers. The meeting usually lasts an hour, and we discuss upcoming events, the status of all our inbound and outbound students, and relevant news about the youth exchange programs.
From November to March the YEO should ideally advertise the short-term program by making presentations at the high school and/or Interact club, as well as through social media. The YEO will then provide the application forms to any student who is interested in applying.
Once an application is received, the YEO will meet with the student and their family to discuss the program and to approve the application, before it is being sent to the district outbound coordinator.
How to get started?
For more information on the program and to get started with the process, please contact a member of the District 7930 Youth Exchange team.