Recently, our District 7910 became involved with the RFE program.  RFE is an international exchange program for Rotary members and friends that allows participants to take turns hosting one another in their homes and clubs. Participants may travel as individuals, couples, families, or groups, and may be Rotary members or not.
We already have an opportunity for two possible exchanges in the next couple of years. The Rotary Club of Helsingborg, Sweden has approached about visiting our district in the Spring of 2020 with members from our district visiting Sweden in fall of 2020.
Our second opportunity is literally ‘around the world.’ The Rotary Club of Benalla., Victoria, Australia has made initial contact with us for exchanges in 2020/21, Their preference time period for visiting districts are February to early May and September to early November. They usually avoid the period May to August due to winter (emphasis added) weather and the holidays late November to January.
Most of you are familiar with our Bandey – Hefler exchange with our British friends. Side note: our district members will travel to the UK, 19 September -1 October this year. The similarities between RFE and BH are many with visitors spending 12 to 14 days moving through the District, staying at three to four clubs during their stay.
While I’ve highlighted some of the similarities between the BH and RFE programs, there are some significant differences. Perhaps the most important one to many is the cost. The RFE program does not operate the way the BH program does with host families. More of the cost of the exchange is borne by the traveler. From the RFE web site: “All exchanges are paid for by the participants or their districts. Hosts are not expected to assume a significant financial burden. Club or district funds may be available to offset the costs of exchanges that have a vocational emphasis.”
Also, unlike BH’s primary goal of fellowship, “Friendship exchanges are organized around at least one of three themes: culture, service, and vocation.” Check out the Rotary Friendship Exchange (RFE) Program
#Please note that our district web page is in beta testing currently and it is not up to date.
Your input on how we can make our district’s RFE as meaningful, productive, and fun is valued and very appreciated. Please, contact Paul Avella , our Friendship Exchange Chair with thoughts on improving the web page and also your interest in the Sweden and/or Australia exchanges, or any others that you would like to explore.
Paul ‘PJ’ Avella
Rotary Club of Littleton, MA