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 10,000 high school students participate in Rotary Youth Exchange, 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, Rotary Youth Exchange 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 ten to 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 Rotary Youth Exchange students) and visit Rotary clubs back in their home district to make presentations about their experience, and to mentor future Rotary Youth Exchange outbound students. The participating students and/or their families pay a small flat fee to participate in the program.
We are currently looking for additional clubs in District 6900 that would like to sponsor an “outbound student” (from Georgia to another country) or host an “inbound student” (from another country to Georgia), or even sponsor/host one of each, for the 2024 - 2025 school year. The costs to the club to sponsor an outbound or to host 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 2024 - 2025 school year will open on August 1, 2023 and the application deadline is October 15, 2023. Student applicants must 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 student, selects the country). From January through June, Future Outbound Candidates study their target language, attend two mandatory training sessions, learn all about Rotary and participate in Rotary service projects and events. Future Outbound Candidates who successfully complete their eight-month preparation period and become conversant in their new target language will graduate in June, and depart for their Rotary exchange year in July or August. For the next 10 -11 months, the Georgia outbound students live in their assigned country with three different host families, who are carefully selected by our Rotarian partners overseas, and they attend high school, participate in Interact and Rotary meetings as well as service projects. Upon their return they attend “rebound” training and orientation, and then visit Rotary clubs in the district over the next year to make presentations about their experience. The in-kind scholarship, valued at over $24,000 covers room and board, tuition, and a monthly stipend for the student. 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 a number of special events during the year together with more than 50 other Inbound Students from neighboring districts in our Zone. Those events include Inbound Orientation and Training Weekend and Walt Disney World 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 $2000.00. (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 Southeast, Inc. More information about the program can be found at ryese.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.
Statement on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
At Rotary, we understand that cultivating a diverse, equitable, and inclusive culture is essential to realizing our vision of a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change.
We value diversity and celebrate the contributions of people of all backgrounds, across age, ethnicity, race, color, disability, learning style, religion, faith, socioeconomic status, culture, marital status, languages spoken, sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity as well as differences in ideas, thoughts, values, and beliefs.
Recognizing that individuals from certain groups have historically experienced barriers to membership, participation, and leadership, we commit to advancing equity in all aspects of Rotary, including in our community partnerships, so that each person has the necessary access to resources, opportunities, networks, and support to thrive.
We believe that all people hold visible and invisible qualities that inherently make them unique, and we strive to create an inclusive culture where each person knows they are valued and belong.
In line with our value of integrity, we are committed to being honest and transparent about where we are in our DEI journey as an organization, and to continuing to learn and do better.