Why is it called an exchange program?
You will be matched with a student of the same gender in a country of your preference. The two of you will spend an agreed upon time together – half of that time in your home and half of the time in their home. Typical visitations are 3-4 weeks each way. It will be up to you and your foreign host family to agree upon the actual dates of the exchange. Your family and your host family decide who will travel first.
Is proficiency in a foreign language needed?
No. The program is cultural in nature but is also for a short period of time. Many countries throughout the world teach English as a second language and most participating students are quite proficient in speaking our language. If you have taken a foreign language in high school and elect to visit a country that speaks that language, you will be able to gain some conversational ability. Most students do not find language to be a barrier in having a great exchange experience.
What is so special about Rotary’s Short Term Exchange Program compared to other programs?
The Rotary International Short Term Exchange Program is volunteer driven. It is organized and administered by volunteer Rotarians throughout the world. The operation is done at several levels; namely the local Rotary Club, the district and the regional levels. They screen the students, prepare them, arrange hosting abroad, insurance, etc. All this work is done by Rotarians as a service. They are not paid to provide this service. At times of immediate need, students who are away from home will be more comfortable knowing that Rotarians will be available to help and offer guidance.
Is this a mutual exchange?
Yes, a student will live with a foreign family for approximately 3-4 weeks. When he or she returns, the host brother or sister will also fly back with the student and stay with the U.S. student's family. The stay here will also be for approximately 3-4 weeks.
May my student select which country to go to?
Every effort will be given to match a student with his/her first choice of countries, but cannot be guaranteed. Availability of foreign students varies year-by-year. We have a good track record at matching students with one of their top 3 country choices.
May I request which gender my student may exchange with?
No, we match the exchanges by same gender/similar age/similar interests. We also watch for critical issues such as a family who will accommodate special needs if necessary (dietary, allergy related).
The actual dates of the exchange will be coordinated by you and your host family. Typically, summer exchange programs occur during June, July, and August when you are out of school.
What is the expected timeframe to finalize these arrangements?
After your application and fee is accepted, home visit and background checks approved, and then the process to make your match will be arranged. Finding a match in the country of your choice is the responsibility of the Short Term Exchange committee members.
The matching process is dependent upon: When applications are received, the number of applications received and the gender and interests of applicants.
How does the flight get booked?
When making airline reservations please confirm with everyone involved the flight airline/arriving airport/dates/times are exact. The cost of the round-trip airfare is your responsibility.
How much does it cost?
$750 Program Fee which includes the cost of processing application, home visit, background checks, medical insurance while abroad, T-shirt, and an orientation meeting.
- Administration Refund Policy: In the unfortunate event that you need to cancel your exchange before your are matched there $250.00 is non-refundable. After your country-family match the $750 program fee is non refundable..
- Please remember – if you cancel your exchange after a match has been arranged then your new sibling has no place to go to and will need to stay home. This is a major disappointment. It is incredibly important to be sure of following through on your exchange prior to making this commitment.
- Cost of round-trip airfare from your home to the foreign country is not included in the program fee.
- Let your Rotary Coordinator know your travel dates as soon as they are confirmed. Insurance coverage needs to be arranged to cover the specific dates you are traveling.
- There is also the cost of having a guest in your house for 3-4 weeks and the additional cost of any excursions or events you may attend.
- You must obtain a passport and visa (if required).
- Provide your own spending money for the duration of the exchange.
What are the host family's obligations?
You are expected to treat your host student as you would your own child. It is also appropriate to entertain the student beyond the normal family activities to give him/her the best opportunity to experience American culture. For example, family vacations to a summer cottage, a relative's home, or even another state are normal. Room, board, travel expenses incurred in the States are paid for by the host family as they would if the visiting student were a normal family member. Special outings to the zoo, to a baseball game, to a museum, etc. should also be provided. American students should have NO job/school commitments during the exchange period so they can spend time with their foreign students. We have found that our students are treated first class when they travel abroad. We would like the American host family to reciprocate with a first class experience for the foreign students.
What responsibility does the District STEP coordinator have?
Each coordinator MUST interview the student applicant to insure he or she will be a good ambassador for their community. The coordinator is also responsible for ensuring the student's home is appropriate to host the inbound student. The Rotary Club President and Youth Exchange Officer MUST sign the application.
How is the student involved in Rotary?
The student (and family, if they desire) are expected to attend 1 Rotary Club meeting prior to departure. This will give them a basis of what to expect if they attend a club meeting overseas with their host sibling and family. Every exchange student, both long term and short term, are sponsored by a local Rotary club. These students are ambassadors for not only their family and their country but also for Rotary. As so, proper dress should be worn when attending the meeting (church attire), handshakes and introductions should be given freely, and if possible, a quick (30 second) introduction of yourself and where you are going.
Am I expected to attend an orientation?
Yes, a formal orientation will be set up in the April/May timeframe, ahead of summer departures. The student and at least one parent MUST attend the orientation session. Your Rotary STEP Coordinator will advise you the exact information.
How much money should the student take?
Again, this will be a personal issue. It will be up to the student and family to decide what works best in their own situation. Students have been known to leave with $400.00 and come back with $150.00. They've also been known to leave with $1,000.00 and call home for more. This must be a personal decision based upon the individual's situation.
My student has graduated from high school. May she/he still apply?
Yes, the age limits are from 15 to 19.
May the student participate in this program more than once?
Yes, they may even want to apply for the long term exchange after visiting a country for the summer. We believe the short term summer exchange can complement the 11 month long term exchange program.