Have you ever dreamed of exploring another culture? Language? Customs? By hosting a Rotary Youth Exchange Student for 3 to 4 months you can expose your family to another culture without ever having to leave home!

Without the willingness and sincerity of families who have opened their hearts and homes to students they have never met, the Rotary Youth Exchange Program would not exist.  In an ever-changing world, it is important that we expose our children, our students and ourselves to areas and people unlike us—it’s how we open our eyes to a global community that shares the same hopes and dreams that we do.

In the landscape of today, adults and children alike must learn about others and reaffirm their faith that people from all over the world are good. What better way to do that than becoming a host family?

Becoming a Host Family

A variety of family structures are perfect for being host families—small, big, with many children, or no children. Working families - retired families - We aim to reflect real-world families to students, and we know that real families come in all shapes and sizes.

The Exchange is Truly Mutually Rewarding

Similarities of cultures should be celebrated and differences should be embraced because there is so much to learn from one another. Each side can act as teachers, leaders, and ambassadors of their cultural background by answering questions, teaching each other, and opening minds to new thoughts and experiences. No matter our age, we are all students of culture and life, which is why becoming a host family is so rewarding.
Being a host family requires tact, sympathy, and patience, but in return, it offers great rewards. It is an opportunity to develop a lifelong relationship that will enrich your family’s life for years to come.
Just keep in mind a few simple things:
  • Make your student feel like a part of th e family 
  • Be patient with language challenges 
  • Encourage and support your student’s involvement in school and community life 
  • Help your student balance his or her commitments and be sure he or she has time to develop friendships 
  • Be accepting of differences and be open to challenging your own preconceptions
Rotary’s Motto is SERVICE ABOVE SELF. Every Rotarian joins a Rotary Club as a volunteer.
The Youth Exchange Program is no different; we depend on volunteers who want to make a difference in a young student’s life.

First Step

The first step to becoming a host family is to apply. The process includes a formal application, a background check, and an in-home interview. During that interview, you’ll cover the rules of the program and the support or resources available from your local club or district Youth Exchange Officers. For the most part, the rules are simple, common sense guidance, much as you probably have for your own children. Some are intended to clarify expectations, while others are focused on avoiding legal or safety problems. For example, RYE students are prohibited from driving, even if they are of legal driving age and drive in their home countries.
Once approved, your Rotary club will provide more information about the schedule of program activities, local resources, and contact information for the club’s Youth Exchange Officer. When a student is matched with you, please correspond to welcome him or her, and provide information about things like where he or she will stay in the house, seasonal clothing, and other practical things. You should also describe your family – who lives in the house, names, ages, jobs or schools, hobbies, interests, etc. If you have pets, please say so, as many cultures do not allow pets in the house and that would be good for your student to know in advance.
Ask yourself what you’d like to know if you were about to move to a new country and into a house with strangers. Try to provide that kind of information.

Early Days

A Rotary delegation generally greets students on arrival at the closest airport. If a family member can be part of the delegation, that is the best. Remember that incoming students may be exhausted from travel and nervous about meeting you. Allow him or her a little time to adjust before forming rigid first impressions or planning extensive activities. Once in the home, be sure your student meets all family members and has a chance to settle into his or her living space. (It is acceptable for your student to share a room with one of your children, but each must have an individual bed.)

Family Adjustments

As you get settled, help your student know how to address you. “Mom” or “Dad” may seem unnatural, at least at first. Whatever you decide, it simply makes it easier for your student to talk with you. Other things to clarify early in the student’s stay with you:
  •  Any food issues or concerns » Individual responsibility for household chores
  •  Normal routines – meal times, bedtimes, study hours, regularly scheduled activities, etc. 
  • Curfews and keys
  • Emergency contacts (both whom to call and what constitutes an “emergency”)
  • Local transportation
  • Religious preferences or services
The details and nuances of family life will be absorbed over time, but a few minutes of plain talk early in the homestay will prevent unnecessary confusion or disagreement later on. You should also be aware of and talk about Rotary’s expectations. At a minimum, your student will be expected to take school and school activities seriously. 
If you have similar-age children in the home, encourage them to introduce your exchange student to their friends and to take him or her along to social events. Especially in the early days with the first family, it can take a little effort on everyone’s part to help the exchange student build a network of friends and acquaintances.


Rotary exchange students are expected to enroll in an appropriate school full-time. Your sponsoring club will have made the necessary arrangements and paid any tuition or fees, but it is your responsibility to help the student take full advantage.  Ironically, this often means counselling a student not to over-enroll in academic courses. A balance of academic and extracurricular activities will usually provide the best exchange experience. Feel free to call on the school’s guidance counsellors if you need help.


In the early days, particularly for the first host family, there may be some language barriers. Inbound students often speak multiple languages and have studied English, but they may not have much experience speaking.  Take your time and enjoy the process of explaining the idiosyncrasies of the English language.  Aside from simply enjoying conversation, pay special attention to whether or not your student fully understands important things: school work, directions, time commitments, etc. Don’t hesitate to enlist the aid of a native speaker of your student’s language. He or she will enjoy the relaxation of speaking a familiar language now and then.


It is almost inevitable that your student will experience occasional bouts of homesickness. This is absolutely normal and not a reflection on you, your family, or your home life. Being on your own in a new country is exhausting. Time, patience, and some gentle distraction will usually help. If the problem is persistent or seems to deepen, reach out to your local Rotary Club’s Youth Exchange Officer for guidance and help.

Changing Host Families

One of the strengths of a Rotary Exchange is the student’s opportunity to experience life with two to four families. The first move may be a bit of a shock. The student will have formed a strong bond with the first family. It’s helpful for the first family to let the student and the second family have a little get-acquainted time, then resume some social contact. The key is that everyone – student, first family, and second family – make a special effort to be understanding of the stress that can accompany this change.

Rotary Expectations

Aside from creating a welcoming and supportive home environment for the student, the host family is also responsible for helping the student fulfill his or her Rotary obligations.  Club members will help with transportation, but students often need host parent support in making and keeping a schedule, preparing presentations, and being available.  Local clubs are genuinely excited about the students they host. Encourage your student to attend Rotary meetings as early and often as he or she can. It’s a great way to meet a wide range of friendly people and build a broader community.  Students sometimes feel apprehensive about their language skills and may use that as an excuse to avoid public speaking obligations. Remind your student that Rotary audiences are very supportive. They are more interested in getting to know the student and his or her story than they are in how fluently it is told.

Application Process

Host Families are required to go through a Host Family Application and Screening.  This includes:
  • completing an application and providing 3 references
  • completing a Police Background Check
  • Interview and home visit by Rotarians Hosting the Inbound student
  •  orientations on expectations and responsibilities

Host Family Application

Some misconceptions regarding Hosting:

"I work full time and can’t entertain the student"
As a host family, your job is not to entertain the student, your job is to open your home and treat them just as one of your own. Making sure they get to school, get a good night's sleep, and are safe and healthy!
"We don’t have any children in the home – we can’t host"
All families are welcome, students flourish in a loving home, no matter the family dynamics. A family does not need to have other teenagers or other children in the home to make it a rewarding experience.
"My child is going out on exchange this year and I would rather host when they return"
Opening your home to a student while your child is away is often a wonderful way to experience what your own child is going through on their exchange. It fills that empty spot in your heart while they are gone.
(password protected) - login to District website - go to Organization/District Committees, follow the RYE link
Contact RYE Team


Contact RYE Committee by email:  Click Here
CLUB MEMBERS:  For Club Documents regarding Youth Exchange, login to District 5360 website -,  Member area - Organization/District Committees/Standing Committees -  password required