Youth Exchange

RYE_w295Rotary Youth Exchange Program 

Long-Term Exchange Instruction Sheet, About Youth Exchange, Frequently Asked Questions, Preliminary Application Form.

The Rotary Club of Hamilton is not taking applications for this program at this time. We encourage you to visit other local Rotary Clubs as they may be seeking applicants.


  1. Act as an Ambassador for Canada, Rotary District 7090, Hamilton and your school.
  2. Learn to live with people of different cultures, creeds and race. You may even learn a new language.
  3. Learn more about who you are and what makes you unique.
  4. Upon your return to Canada, share with others everything that you have learned about another country and culture.

Countries for Exchange include Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, The Netherlands and Taiwan.

About Youth Exchange

Every year more than 8,000 teens will see the world the way it is best seen, from the inside out, through the Youth Exchange program. This could be your year.

As a Rotary Youth Exchange student, you will spend a year living with a host family in a country other than your own. You may learn a new language; you will learn a new way of living and a great deal about yourself. But there’s more. While you are busy learning, the people you meet will be learning as well – about your country, culture, and ideas. You will be an ambassador. You will be helping to bring the world closer together, and you’ll be making good friends in the process.

If you are ready for the challenge and the rewards of living in another land as an exchange student, then you are ready to discover new worlds through the Rotary Youth Exchange.


If you are a high school student between the ages of 15 and 18, (Students must be over 15 and under 18 years on 1 September), then you are eligible for Rotary Youth Exchange. As the world’s oldest exchange program of its kind, Rotary Youth Exchange takes pride in choosing students who are academically above average, articulate, and demonstrate leadership in their communities.

Ideal candidates should also possess qualities like flexibility and a willingness to try new things that will enable them to become excellent cultural ambassadors. You do not have to be involved with Rotary in any way in order to apply, although children of Rotarians are more than welcome to participate.

Student responsibilities

All students are ambassadors of the Rotary club that sponsored them and of their country. They are expected to follow the Youth Exchange program rules, be open to new experiences, and strive to learn the language of the host country.

The student and his/her own family will assume certain financial obligations. Rotary Youth Exchange is one of the least expensive international exchange programs open to high school-aged students. Because volunteers in Rotary clubs and districts administer the Rotary Youth Exchange program, you will not have to pay fees to an agency to arrange an exchange.

With Rotary, you and your parents or guardians are responsible for:

  • Round-trip airfare to your host country
  • Health and accident insurance
  • All travel documents, such as passports and visas
  • Clothing and spending money
  • An emergency fund for your use during the year

Room and board while you are away will be provided by your host families, and your host Rotary club will finance the tuition for required academic programs. Also, on long-term exchanges, your host Rotary club will provide you with a modest monthly allowance. Some Rotary clubs have established scholarships for disadvantaged students to help fund the cost of plane tickets and other expenses. Check with your local Rotary club to see if they offer such assistance.

Although Rotary International offers support to local Rotary Youth Exchange programs through publications and suggested guidelines, Rotary districts and clubs run their programs independent of Rotary International. Therefore, each club or district program will have its own specific rules for students to follow. Students accepted into the program sign and agree to abide by a list of program rules prior to their departure from home. While the host Rotary club will discuss all program rules with you, you and your parents may wish to review the program rules to be sure everyone has a clear understanding of what is expected.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Do I have to speak the language?

In most cases, no. However, you will enjoy and adapt better to your host country if you have studied the language before your arrival. If you have never taken any language courses, you should do study on your own as much as possible before your departure.

Why do I have to live with three families?

In most study abroad programs, students only get the chance to live with one host family. With Rotary, you have the opportunity to live with up to three different families. Because the main goal of the Rotary program is to promote peace and understanding among the different cultures of the world, you will gain greater insight into the ways of your host country by living with more than one family.

Can I work while I am abroad?

No. As a Rotary Youth Exchange student, you will have a student visa that enables you to live for an extended period of time abroad. Student visas expressly prohibit you from working at a paying job at any time during your stay.

How are host families selected?

Host families are selected in much the same way you are selected as an exchange student. They must complete an application and an in-home interview with the individuals coordinating Youth Exchange in their area. Host family parents do not have to be Rotarians, but many Rotary club members apply to serve as host families.

Will I be able to play sports?

Organized sports and extracurricular activities are different from country to country. If you are interested in playing a particular sport or practicing a certain extracurricular pursuit, be certain to discuss it with your host Rotary club. Your host club will then try to enroll you in whatever form of organized extracurricular activity you wish.

Are there program rules?

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 an exchange. Generally, as a Rotary Youth Exchange student, it is your responsibility to:

  • Abide by all the program rules of your host Rotary club and district.
  • Accept the supervision of the host district, host club, and host family.
  • Act as an ambassador of your own country.
  • Be open to new experiences and cultural differences.