Youth Exchange

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Each year, the Rotary Youth Exchange Program provides thousands of young people with the opportunity to experience the cultures, problems and accomplishments of people in other countries.  Through this Rotary program, students are given the opportunity to grow as individuals while their concept of the world is growing too.  Participants return with a broader view of the world and a deeper understanding of themselves.

As these young people become adults, many assume leadership roles in their communities and bring to those positions the benefits of their exchange experiences.  As a result, Rotary’s Youth Exchange program becomes a powerful force in the promotion of world understanding and peace.

Through Youth Exchange, Rotarians seek to provide the best possible environment for the participants.  The program enjoys the advantages of more than 30 years of experience and a network of more than a million Rotarians around the world.  This experience and Rotary’s support system ensures the best possible exchange for participants in the program.




Like most Rotary International programs, the Youth Exchange Program began at the club level.  The first documented exchanges were initiated by the Rotary Club of Copenhagen in 1929, and involved only European participants.  These European exchanges continued until World War II and resumed in 1946 at the end of the war.

Exchanges between clubs in California, USA and Latin American countries began in 1939, and exchange activities spread to the eastern United States in 1958.

In 1972, the RI Board of Directors agreed to make Youth Exchange an official program of Rotary International.  Still administered by clubs, districts and multi-district groups, the program has grown to include over 58 countries and more than 8,000 students each year! 

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There are 3 principal types of exchanges.  Until recently District 5080 only participated in long-term (one-year) exchanges, but since 2001 has also been active in short-term exchanges.

Long-term exchanges - These usually last an academic year in the host country, during which time the student usually lives with three or more families and is required to attend school regularly. 

Short-term exchanges - These vary from several days to several weeks; and usually take place when school is not in session.  Short-term exchanges normally involve a home stay experience with a family in the host country, but can also be organized as international youth camps, which bring together students from many countries.

Exchanges for disabled youth - These can be either long-term or short-term exchanges involving disabled young people. 




Rotary District 5080’s Youth Exchange Program is open to all qualified students between 15 and 18 years old (they must not be 18 before August 1st of the year that they leave on exchange).  The children of Rotarians are eligible to participate in the program.  Qualified applicants are academically above average, articulate, and demonstrate community leadership skills.  Applicants and their parents are interviewed by the sponsor Rotary Club as well as by a District Interview Committee.