Read this carefully, so that you make realistic choices of countries with which you wish to exchange:
The Rotary Long Term Exchange programme runs for a full school year and is what it says, an exchange programme. In return for a foreign country hosting a student from the UK or Ireland, we are expected to host a student from that country for a full year.
Currently, in order to be eligible to attend school in the UK or Ireland for more than six months, a foreign student must hold a European passport and have lived in Europe for the three years immediately before coming here. So students from any of the 26 other countries in the European Union, plus Switzerland, Norway and Iceland may exchange into UK or Ireland.
However, students who live outside of Europe but hold a European passport through someone such as a grandparent can exchange with UK or Irish students as long as the person upon whom their passport relies is still alive and living in Europe. For this reason we can occasionally exchange with South American countries to which very many Europeans have emigrated. What this means in practice is that most Long Term Exchanges will be with European countries.
Rotary Clubs in Great Britain and Ireland sponsor students, who will be aged 16 or 17 when the school year begins, to live and study at a similar level in a foreign country, where they will be hosted with selected host families for a full school year. In return, a student from the “exchange” country will be hosted, for a similar period, by the Rotary Club which has sponsored the outbound student.
If you are the exchange student: during your stay abroad, you will be become an integral member of your host family and will be treated by your host parents exactly as they would treat their own sons or daughters. A Rotarian from the hosting Rotary Club is appointed as your Mentor and whenever you have a question or concern during your exchange s/he will be there to help you.
You, or your family, will be expected to help identify families who would be willing to host an inbound student for around three months. Your own family may be one of the families but does not have to be. Nominated host families will be interviewed and expectations and obligations will be explained to them.
Prospective host parents will be required to submit to DBS checks and supply independent referees who can verify their suitability to host a student from abroad. All nominated families should live within reasonable travelling distance of the high school which the inbound student will attend. Host families do not receive any payment but neither will the families hosting you be paid.
Applications must be made before the end of December for the following academic year. The sponsoring Rotary club will interview prospective exchange students and their parents. Selection of students for the available places and sponsorship will take place early in the new year. Every effort will be made to place selected students in their country of choice but this cannot be guaranteed and successful applicants may be offered a placement elsewhere. Orientations to prepare students for their exchange year take place in March/April and students normally travel to the host country in August.
There are many young people around Europe dreaming of coming to UK & Ireland, so you can feel good that, by choosing to do a Rotary Youth Exchange, not only will you be able to fulfil one of your dreams but you will also enable someone else’s dream to come true.
Why not check out Facebook where you will find many Youth Exchange sites belonging to Rotary Districts and past exchangers all over the world – they are always happy to tell you what a great time they had.