Georgina du Plooy

Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) is a Rotary International student exchange program for students in secondary school. Since 1927, Rotary International has sent young people around the globe to experience new cultures. Currently, about 9,000 students from more than 82 countries are sponsored by Rotary clubs every year.

The most powerful force in the promotion of international understanding and peace is exposure to different cultures. The world becomes a smaller, friendlier place when we learn that all people — regardless of nationality — desire the same basic things: a safe, comfortable environment that allows for a rich and satisfying life for our children and ourselves. Youth Exchange provides thousands of young people with the opportunity to meet people from other lands and to experience their cultures. This plants the seeds for a lifetime of international understanding.

Students departing from South Africa
Students departing from South Africa

The objectives of the programme are as follows:

  • To further international goodwill and under- standing by enabling students at first hand to study some of the problems and accomplishments of people in countries other than their own.
  • To enable students to advance their education by studying for a year in an environment entirely different from their own and undertaking study courses and subjects not normally available to them in secondary schools of their own country.
  • To broaden their own outlook by learning to live with and meet people of different cultures, creeds and colours from their own, and having to cope with day to day problems in an environment completely different from the one they experience at home.
  • To act as Ambassadors for their own country by addressing Rotary Clubs, Community organisations and Youth Groups in their host country and by imparting as much knowledge as they can of their own country and its problems to the people they meet during their year abroad.
  • To study and observe all facets of life and culture in the country where they are hosted so that on their return to their home country they can pass on the knowledge they have gained by addressing Rotary Clubs, Youth Groups and Community organisations.
Youth Exchange Cape Tour
Youth Exchange Cape Tour

Types of Youth Exchange – Short Term and Long Term

The Rotary Youth Exchange Long-Term Programme is a 12 month secondary education exchange programme. The program is ideal for students who are intent on becoming fluent in another language, learning a new culture on an intimate basis with 3-4 different host families (the number is dependent on the country – numerous Rotary Clubs may only provide a single host family) and being an ambassador for their country. This program is for students who are self motivated, friendly and outgoing, caring and smart. Students may live with a number of families but they are not guests – they are expected to fit into the family’s normal daily routine. This includes doing basic chores requested by the family, participating in all family events, and generally becoming the closest representation of a biological child as is possible.

The Rotary Youth Exchange Short-Term Programme is a 6 to 8 week family to family exchange, for 15 to 18 year olds, whereby you host a student either in July/August (for students coming from the Northern Hemisphere i.e. Europe) or December/January (Southern Hemisphere i.e. South America). All students from Southern Africa depart November/December of any given year.