Apr 17, 2023
Bill Pritchard
Rotary Youth Exchange for 2024 and beyond

Youth Exchange is a cornerstone of Rotary.  Globally, it is recognized on a similar status as our efforts in the elimination of Polio.  The program was first proposed in 1927 by a Rotarian in France who proposed an international youth exchange program between Rotarians with children.  In 1928, the first exchanges occurred with students from Belgium, Denmark, Italy and Switzerland.  It took until 1937 until the United States became involved - District 107 (formerly Southern California) set up an exchange with districts in Latin America. The end of World War II accelerates the program with a focus on Peace building between countries and cultures.  The first Youth Exchange conference happened in 1953 in Switzerland and the Rotary Board of Directors takes up the issue with examination and study in 1966.  It culminated in 1975, when Rotary Youth Exchange was officially recognized as an activity of Rotary International.


Since then, over 90% of Rotary Districts have been certified to participate in Rotary Youth Exchange.  More than 6,000 Rotary Clubs have participated in an exchange (sending an outbound or accepting an inbound).  Approximately 6,000 to 8,000 students participate in Youth Exchange on an annual basis.  Rotary did not necessarily invent exchange - but Rotary accounts for approximately 7 of 10 exchanges that occur in the United States each year.


Our District offers three different exchange programs - (1) our traditional Inbound Program - where a normally 15-19 year old visits the United States for 9-11 months and attends American High School, (2) our Outbound Program - where we send a 15-19 year old abroad for the same 9 - 11 months to experience a "life in a year" abroad and (2) our Short-Term Program - a perfect short exchange between two families that is facilitated by Rotary and normally is only two-three weeks long.