FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHY SHOULD STUDENTS PARTICIPATE IN AN EXCHANGE?
There are many reasons to consider but here are some of the rewards a student may reap:
- Benefiting from immersion in another culture while adapting to a new way of life
- Making lifelong friends, not only within the host country but also with other students from around the world
- Learning about the practices and accomplishments of people in other countries
- Returning home with a greater sense of the world and a deeper understanding of themselves and their culture
- Serving as an ambassador for their country and community
- Assuming leadership roles shaped by lessons from their experience
- Building memories that will be with them forever.
WHAT KIND OF EXCHANGES ARE THERE?
Rotary District 5340 offers two types of exchanges:
- Long-term: This exchange is open to students ages between 15 and 18-1/2 (at time of departure) and typically lasts 10-12 months. Most students are 16-18 years old during their exchange year. The student lives with more than 1-3 host families in the host country and is required to attend school. Long-term exchanges may be extended to include part or all of the holiday/vacation periods immediately before or after the academic year.
- Short-term: This exchange is open to students ages 15-19 and ranges from 2-4 weeks abroad and usually takes place during the summer when school is not in session. Short-term exchanges typically involve a Rotary district-organized exchange of a son or daughter between two families, but they may also take the form of international youth camps or tours that bring together students from many countries.
WHO CAN APPLY FOR THE EXCHANGE PROGRAM?
Rotary’s Youth Exchange program is open to young men and women, between the ages of 15 and 18-1/2 (at time of departure), for sons and daughters of Rotarians AND non-Rotarians alike. Applicants are selected by a sponsoring Rotary club and SCANEX leadership based on an online application and personal interviews, one by the local Club and one by SCANEX leadership. Qualified applicants are academically in the upper third of their class, articulate, and demonstrate community leadership skills. Applicants are not required to be involved with Rotary in any way before applying. Children of Rotarians are welcome to participate but are not given any preference. Students with disabilities are encouraged to apply.
WHERE CAN I GO ON MY EXCHANGE?
- Exchanges can occur between any two countries where there are Rotary clubs and are certified to conduct exchanges. Approximately 65 countries and regions annually sponsor or host Youth Exchange students. SCANEX currently has an exchange relationship with over 30 countries.
ARE THERE ANY PROGRAM RULES?
Students accepted into the program are required to sign and abide by a list of program rules prior to their departure from home. While the hosting Rotary club will discuss all program rules with you, you and your parents may wish to review the program rules to be sure that everyone has a clear understanding of what is expected. Program rules generally consist of common-sense stipulations, such as no driving of motor vehicles and the need to obtain special permission for travel while on the exchange. Full rules can be found here.
WHAT IF I DON’T LIKE MY HOST FAMILY?
Students will be placed with 2-3 host families during their year abroad. Just as you sometimes may experience at home, there may be situations where you do not agree with your host families, or you find their cultural mannerisms bothersome. Part of the exchange experience is learning to adapt and overcome adversity and make the most of situations.
AM I GOING TO BE EXPECTED TO BE FLUENT IN THE HOST COUNTRY’S LANGUAGE?
Most host districts do not require students to be fluent in the local language on arrival. Students are strongly encouraged to enroll in classes to develop a basic competency before departure. Language proficiency is sometimes needed to obtain a visa, and host districts may require exchange students to take language classes after they arrive. An ability to understand the language will help students become comfortable with their new surroundings and ease homesickness.
WILL THERE BE OTHER EXCHANGE STUDENTS IN MY HOST SCHOOL?
Possibly. Larger clubs which host more than one student may have 2 or more students placed at your host school. Likewise other exchange agencies may have students placed at your host school as well.
CAN I CONTINUE MY HOBBIES IN THE HOST COUNTRY?
(SPORTS, ART, MUSIC, ETC.) Most host countries do not have organized sports at school. Sports are done primarily through clubs and there may be the opportunity for students to participate. Art and music activities may be possible to participate in.
CAN I STILL TALK TO MY FRIENDS BACK HOME?
Of course, but the primary objective during your time abroad is to fully engage in the host country, learn the language, and maximize your experiences. If you are regularly talking with your friends (and family), it will impact your adoption of your host language and impede the development of your relationships.