Posted by Vanessa Glavinskas - Illustrations, Ruby Taylor on Nov 07, 2020

For more than 40 years, Rotary Youth Exchange has been one of Rotary’s best-known programs. As an official program, it dates to 1975 — but, by that time, Rotary clubs had already been sending students abroad for decades with the aim of promoting international understanding and friendship.

What the program offers to and asks of participants — an openness to new ideas and experiences, a willingness to adapt and to gain new perspectives, and an opportunity to make new friends and learn new ways of living — are the same values that define Rotary itself.

“The major goal of Youth Exchange is to dive into another culture,” says Rotary President Holger Knaack, who served as chair of the German Multi-District Youth Exchange. He and his wife, Susanne Knaack, have hosted dozens of students. “Youth Exchange is an opportunity for the kids to experience something new," he says. "And, it has enriched our own lives.”

The following stories reveal how Rotary Youth Exchange students continues to change lives.


Isabelle Roughol, NewJersey


Diary of an exchange year

Lore Soria, Ecuador


Impact of COVID-19

Although the COVID-19 pandemic postponed some exchanges, the ethos of Rotary Youth Exchange remains strong. While all new long-term exchanges have been suspended until January 2021, some districts have been allowed to continue exchanges with strict safety guidelines and program modifications during the 2020-'21 Rotary year. Read Rotary International's interview with RI Director Tony Black about the measures Rotary is taking to keep Youth Exchange students safe

For more information on the Rotary Youth Exchange, click here.

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