RYE Florida's Short Term Exchange Program (STEP)

Rotary’s STEP program is a true family to family exchange. Your student will go overseas for about 4 weeks with his/her host sibling and then your child will return home with his/her host sibling and spend about 4 weeks with your family. 

The following districts are participating in RYE Florida's STEP Program: D6950, D6970, D6890. (See on a map). If you live in one of these districts, please use the information below. 

RYE Florida only exchanges with certified countries and are open to applicants between the guideline ages 15-19 years old, inclusive.

Exchanges are typically 4 weeks long during the months of June – August.

Rotary matches you by age, gender, and similar interests. Upon a match, the two families work together to plan the details (such as who travels first, dates of travel and which airline to use).

Applications close March 31.

Requirements to participate

  • Must be between 15-19 years old
  • Students must be adventurous and open to change
  • No school attendance
  • Must have a valid passport
  • Available to travel/host during the summer months

Cost

  • $750 Administration Fee which includes the cost of processing application, home visit, background checks, medical insurance while abroad, T-shirt, and an orientation meeting. No other costs or flight tickets are included. (See FAQ for more details.)

RYE-FL Coordinates 

  • Background checks
  • Country and family matching
  • CISI insurance
  • Youth Protection card
  • RYE t-shirt

Your local Rotary district will 

  • Conduct home visits
  • Conduct Parent/student training
  • Arrange for Club signatures

Short Term Youth Exchange (STEP)


Devi Phillipsdevi@ryeflorida.org

 
Sherise Nelson sherise@ryeflorida.org

Preparing To Go Abroad

Passport
If you have a valid passport, the expiration dates must NOT end within three months of the END of your exchange.  If it does, plan on re-applying for a new one.  If you do not have a passport at all, apply now. At least one parent should also have a valid passport.

Your Summer Match 
When a suitable Summer match is made by the Summer Coordinator, the families should immediately begin communicating with each other. Use email, Skype with video, and other means of communications.  
Develop a clear understanding of the plans for family activities to be undertaken in each country. Communicate your goals and wishes for the exchange with the host family.

Itinerary 
Before you arrange flights, inform the Summer Coordinator that you are prepared to move forward with your match.  As soon as you have the arranged flight plans, email your flight itinerary to the Summer Coordinator at devi@ryeflorida.org.  

Insurance 
For your time abroad with RYE, you must be insured on a medical and liability plan.  Before you travel we will provide you with your insurance information and confirmation with CISI insurance.  

What to Pack 
•Take clothes that fit a range of occasions including formal. (ex: pack one pair of dress shoes)
•Closet space abroad may be limited
•Remember appropriate plug adapters – your flat iron/hair dryer will not work abroad
•If you wear glasses or contact lenses bring an extra pair
•Carry your phone with essential numbers such as summer exchange coordinator
•Avoid over packing – cars are smaller abroad
•Remember to bring host family gift
•Carry medications with the original prescriptions

Learn Something about your Host Country
Purchase a guide book about your country, the people, food, culture, etc.  Download an app on your phone with phrases to practice prior to departure.  

Gifts
You should carry with you a small gift of appreciation for your host family/siblings.  The gifts do not have to be expensive but something from Florida is suggested.  Examples are:  postcards as thank you notes, Disney pins, American flags, picture book about Florida (paperback/9.00). Think about something that might be important to your host mother or father also.  Thoughtful gifts are the best.

Guidelines for Host Parents

Treatment of Host Son or Daughter 
Host parents, treat your host son or daughter the way you would treat your own child.  Consider their safety and comfort while on exchange.  
Typically the host family is expected to pay for expenses considered family activities such as dining out, hotel costs, holiday trips, etc. except for spending money/souvenirs. If you intend for your host child to pay for expenses, these must be voiced prior to the exchange.  

While on Exchange

Host Family 
You should ask your host parent what they would like for you to call them.  Usually students call host parents by their first names.  You might even ask them this question before you depart.  The section on “First Night Questions” will provide more information on questions to ask.

Host families have different situations so you might have your own room.  However, you should be prepared to share a room with our host sibling of the same gender as you.  You will, of course, have your own bed.

Remember that your host family is under NO obligation to adjust to your ways or customs or to treat you like a special guest.  You are expected to accept the normal discipline and supervision of the family and settle into their normal routine.

If problems do arise while on exchange, contact your host club counselor or your Summer Exchange District Coordinator.

Homesickness

After the excitement of new experiences, you may find yourself being homesick.  Try to keep yourself busy and occupied with activities.  An open discussion with your host family may help. Also, constant communication with your family back home may worsen your homesickness so try and limit this contact.

Be Present 
Take the opportunities to join in a group or family activities.  You are there to make new friends and experience new adventures. The more involved you become, the more present you will become in your exchange.

Have an Open Mind
An open mind should be kept on controversial issues such as religion, race, or politics.  You should try to see the other point of view even if you do not agree.  Be tactful when your host parents or siblings express views different from yours.  But you must also be yourself. Someone who never engages in conversation or asks the question “why” can be seen as shallow. Share your thoughts on issues while being mindful of how it sounds to your host family.  You don’t want to says something you wish you could take back.

Travel

You will be traveling to your host country alone but will be returning with your host sibling or vice versa.    Independent travel in your host country without proper adult supervision is prohibited without prior approval from both host parents. You may NOT make travel arrangements on your own.

Finances 
For emergency use only, take and set aside $100 USD.  You should also have cash for spending money at the airports while traveling.  Applying for a credit or ATM card to carry is also a good idea.  Some US banks offer credit cards with no foreign exchange fees.  A joint ATM card with your parents might also be useful for cash withdraws.

Personal Behavior 
Always remember you are an ambassador for Rotary Youth Exchange and should act and dress accordingly (No shorty-shorts or micro-skirts).

The 6-D’s

• Drugs – students are not allowed to possess or use illegal drugs. Do not smoke.
• Drinking – no drinking
• Driving – NO student is allowed to operate motorized vehicles
• Dating – students must avoid serious romantic activities while on exchange.  Students must abstain from any sexual activity and promiscuity.
• Disfigurement – students are NOT allowed to get any tattoos or piercings while on exchange
• Dumb Stuff – don’t be the “ugly” American.  Don’t do stupid things.  Don’t break the law.


The 6-B’s 
(written by Pauline Perreault- CEO of Jump Outta Bed, Inc.)

B First – Be a Person of Action
Take on interest in your host family.  Practice your language prior to departure.

B Curious – I Seek to Understand 
Ask why?  Why are there cultural differences between you. (ex: why does your family eat beans for breakfast, why do take 16 classes at school). Share your culture with them.  Cook a dish.

B on Purpose – I look for Opportunities Wherever I Go 
Did your exchange happen by accident?  Did you create your path? Your boat will take you from point A to point B on your exchange and you never have to lift a finger.  But your most amazing experiences will happen when YOU are the captain of your boat. Take advance of simple, everyday events like a walk with your host mom or a bus trip to the grocery.

B of Service – I Give of Myself 
Offer to walk the family dog.  Make pancakes for your host family one morning. Learn about world news so you can engage in conversation.  Be an ambassador- find out how you can make a difference.

B Grateful – I Focus on Things I can be Thankful For 
My parents sacrificed so that I could do this.  Use FL postcards to leave Thank You notes for little things people do for you. Share with your host siblings.

B Here NOW – I Live in the Moment
If you spend one hour a day on Facebook or Skype with friends and family back home then you’ve lost 2 full days of your exchange.  Spend that time instead on watching TV with your host sibling or taking that walk with your host mom.   Manage your communication back home. Be excited every morning you wake up as the day will be filled with new adventures.  Return with NO regrets.  Keep a journal and write a small note each day of what you did.

To Be A Successful Exchange Student- How to you want to be remembered?
•Do not stay in your room all the time – find the balance
•Say Thank You often – write thank you notes.
•Offer to help with dinner or cleaning the table after dinner.
•Try new foods even if you don’t like them – at least you tried.
•Share with your host family – share your culture, your dreams and goals
•Always let your host family know where you are.
•If your host parents are doing a project around the house – offer to help
•Your parents might work, so expect some down time during your exchange.
•Make your bed each morning and keep your room neat. Help coordinate your laundry.
•Don’t spend too much time on the computer or phone.  NEVER have your phone at dinner or during family time.  If being driving by an adult, do not be on your phone
•Be nice. Avoid eating too fast or too much.


First Night Questions
1.What do I call you?
2.What do you want me to do in the house in addition to making my bed?
3.What is the laundry procedure?
4.Should I wash my own clothes?
5.Where should I keep my toiletries?
6.What time are meals?
7.Can I assist at mealtime with setting the table, etc.?
8.Are there areas of the house or community I shouldn’t go?
9.What time do you usually awake?
10.What time do you usually go to bed?
11.Do my host siblings have any dislikes I should know?
12.Do you attend church?
13.Do you have wireless in your home?  May I have the password if there is one?

Rotary Clubs – you may attend a Rotary meeting abroad, so we suggest attending one here prior to your travels.  Your Summer Exchange Coordinator can assist you with finding a club to attend.

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