Is your son or daughter considering going abroad for a year?
Are you wondering if this is a good idea?
We believe that our high school study abroad program is a fantastic opportunity that is incomparable to any other exchange experience! There are several advantages to Rotary Youth Exchange which range from the number of adults that will be involved in the care of your child before, during and after their exchange, the cost, as well as the multiple safety features that Rotary International and District 5500 adhere to.
In regards to safety, Rotary International has created for every Rotary District a set of standards and qualifications prior to participation by a district in RYE. D5500-Southern Arizona only exchanges only with other R.I. (Rotary International) certified Rotary Districts. Rotarians will be involved with your child from the time of the first interview throughout multiple orientation and training sessions prior to departure, during his/her year abroad and again upon return. Your son or daughter will also have the opportunity to stay involved in the youth exchange program as Rotex (our name for former exchange students).
While living abroad, your son or daughter will live with at least two (possibly three or four) families. By living with different families, students will have a greater opportunity to explore the community they live in, interact with a wider range of people, as well as having the chance to engage in different activities as every family has different hobbies, traditions and lifestyles. We as Rotarians believe this allows students to fully understand and appreciate their community and become acculturated to a larger degree. This is different than other high school exchange programs, where students typically stay with just one family. Rotarians believe the advantages definitely outweigh any of the cons.
Another positive characteristic of Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE) is that many adults will be working with and watching over your son or daughter throughout the process. Students have a local counselor from their Sponsoring Rotary Club, as well as District 5500 RYE volunteers working to prepare him/her for their year abroad. In addition, when your child is abroad, a local Rotary Club will be hosting him/her. Being that Rotary Clubs may have anywhere from ten to three hundred members, there will be many people assisting him/her to adjust to living away from home, living in a new culture, and negotiating a new language. There is a built in support system for students at both the local Rotary Club level to the district and often multi-district levels.
Rotary Youth Exchange seeks students who are able to handle challenges, want to learn to be more independent, can roll with the punches (so to speak) and be flexible. Our best candidates are seeking new experiences in a different culture and have a keen interest in wanting to learn another language. We know that if your child is selected as a Rotary Youth Exchange student, he or she will leave as a child and return to you as a young adult. Students become more independent while abroad, improve their decision making skills, as well as come to have a broader respect for other cultures, while increasing their respect for their own country.
Maya Frost has a great perspective regarding youth exchange and international education. Although not a Rotarian herself, she and her husband sent their daughters on exchange and both daughters were selected by Rotarians to travel abroad for their year. Check out her videos below.