Rotary Youth Exchange
Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) is a Rotary International student exchange program for students in secondary school. Since 1929, Rotary International has sent young people around the globe to experience new cultures. Currently, about 9,000 students are sponsored by Rotary clubs every year. Typically, students are sent to another country for a year-long stay, generally living with multiple host families during the year and being expected to perform daily tasks within the household as well as attend school in the host country. Short term exchange programs are also quite common. These typically involve direct student exchanges between two families arranged through Rotary to coincide with major school holiday periods.
The Rotarians that participate in the program are volunteers. Many Rotarians are involved in various aspects of the youth exchange program including student selection, compliance with immigration and Rotary regulations, hosting, and supporting students. Each student is sponsored by a Rotary Club and Rotary District in their home country and is hosted by a Rotary Club and Rotary District in their host country. Most districts have a chair for the Rotary Youth Exchange program and some also have committees. Each Rotary Club that hosts a student SHOULD provide a Rotarian counselor for the student who is the student's contact person within the club and provides support to the student when needed (this does not always happen). Some districts are very active and host and send many students, other districts are less active and host fewer students. Some clubs do not even invite host students to attend weekly meeting while other clubs will actively encourage the students to attend.
The parent Rotary organization, Rotary International, has instituted a Certification Program which assesses individual RYE programs with a primary focus on quality control and student safety. Rotary groups are not permitted to participate in RYE programs without first obtaining RI Certification.
In 2003, an Australian woman accused the volunteer charity, Rotary, of failing to investigate or adequately respond to her allegations of repeated abuse by a Rotarian who was supposed to be looking after her during her exchange in 1967 when she was 15.
Events for students vary from country to country and district to district, but exchange students may often be able to visit other parts of their host country and sometimes other countries while on exchange with their host families, schools, or Rotary. Many districts organize tours for the students they host, which may include weekend trips to nearby cities, tours of the host country that may last several weeks, and many students in Europe have the opportunity to take part in Eurotours which visit many countries and last two to four weeks. However, like most exchange programs, the primary purpose of Rotary Youth Exchange is to provide a cultural and academic exchange and significant independent travel by students is therefore not allowed.
Exchange students are called "outbounds" by their home (sponsor) Rotary club and district, and simultaneously "inbounds" by their host Rotary club and district in the country they spend their year in. Students who have completed their exchanges are called "rebounds" or "Rotex". But the term "Rotex" usually refers to former outbounds who participate in the organization Rotex for helping exchangers. There is also the rare "yo-yo" - a student who has been on two exchanges. Other slang includes the terms "newies" and "oldies". Due to the arrival of many of the southern hemisphere students in January and the northern hemisphere students in August, there is a group of students that are half a year behind or ahead of that current generation. A student from an older generation is an oldie and students from newer generation are newbies or newies. This half year delay can be helpful in mentoring the newer students into an exchange student's lifestyle. Another slang word that is used is "dinosaur", which can refers to one's oldie's oldie. Other terms include "Northie" and "Southie", referring to student from either a northern or southern (respectively) hemisphere country, which affects the time period that an exchanger will spend in their host country. A Southie will usually depart either January or February, staying in their host country until the beginning of the next year, while a Northie usually leaves in August or September and stays until the following June or July. This is usually dependent on the students home country. A student from the United States will almost always leave in August or September and will stay until June or July. This can result in back-to-back summers, if a student travels to the southern hemisphere.
Today, many Rotary Exchange students can be recognized by their Rotary Youth Exchange blazer. While most countries recommend navy blue, the blazer may also be dark green, red, black, or maroon. The color of the blazer usually depends on which country or region the exchange student is from. One Rotary tradition is that students cover their blazers in pins and patches they have traded with other students or bought in places they have visited as evidence of their exchange.
Blazer colors (for countries with more than one color, the main one is in bold, the other ones are used in some regions):
- Navy blue
- Czech Republic
- South Korea
- United States
- Light Blue
- Varies by year
- Hays, Constance L. (1987). "Student-Exchange Groups Report Problems in Finding Host Families". New York Times. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
- Fordham, Tracy (12/2/2008). "Pedagogies of Cultural Change: The Rotary International Youth Exchange Program and Narratives of Travel and Transformation". Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change 3 (3): 143–156. doi:10.1080/14766820608668492.
- Fordhan, Traci Ann (May 2002). "Cultural capital and the making of "blue blazer kids": An ethnography of a youth exchange program". Surface: Syracuse University Research. Retrieved 7 March 2014.
Rotary Youth Exchange from Rotary International
A Primer for Exchange Students
A Guide for Host Families
Rotary Youth Exchange from USA-Canada youth exchange network
Cultures Shocked: International Youth Exchange Forum
YEP-Online A place where Rotary Youth Exchange Students can meet
Rotary Youth Exchange Program (Belgium/Luxembourg) D1620, D2170, D1630
Rotary Youth Exchange for Britain & Ireland
Rotary Youth Exchange for Spain
2nd International Rotex Convention July 2014, Brussels, Belgium