Since 1929, Rotary International has been sponsoring high school students to study around the globe as part of the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. As of 2018, roughly 9000 students per year participate in either short-term or full academic year exchanges. Short-term programs allow students to experience another culture for a period of 3-4 weeks, while the full academic program allows them to fully immerse themselves in another culture while attending school there.

In providing students with opportunities to travel and learn about how other cultures live and work, the Youth Exchange Program exemplifies Rotary’s commitment to effecting positive change and building peace in the world. Youth Exchange students will return home with a changed worldview and ideas for how we can better understand, help, and work with others.

In District 7450, the Youth Exchange Program (YEP) is a part of the ESSEX (Eastern States Student Exchange) Program. Our committee serves outbound, inbound, and rebound students.

YEP works with Rotary clubs, Interact clubs, and schools to identify and meet with local students who will participate in the outbound program for the following year. Once the students are selected, the committee continues communication with them and their families throughout the duration of their exchange program.

ESSEX cooperates with foreign counterparts to locate students who will stay in America. When it informs YEP of the inbound students, the YEP committee identifies Rotary clubs to sponsor a student and a family to host him or her. Each host family is vetted through the state and federal government, and YEP monitors the students and families to ensure safe and compatible relations. The committee also takes them on field trips to places such as New York City and Washington, D.C., to give them a broader view of America.

Finally, when the rebound students arrive home, the committee is there to greet and debrief them, as well as to have a social for all those returning. It’s an opportunity for families and the committee to bring closure to an extraordinary experience.

District 7450 offers exchange opportunities to 36 countries for YEP students to participate in either short or long-term programs. YEP facilitates 2-4 short-term and 7-10 long-term exchanges each year. We also host 7-10 inbound students.

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