Virtual Exchange

The current COVID-19 situation has made travel abroad programs come to a halt.


Students enrolled in the Virtual Exchange program won’t have to be disappointed with another program cancellation.

Students will participate as if they were going to travel to a host country but will do it virtually! Through the 8-week program, tentatively scheduled during February – March 2021, students will meet-up once a week for one hour with their “match” student from another country. US high school students will be matched with a student from Europe, South America or Asia. Age for participation is 15½ - 17 years old. The students will experience another country language and culture through the virtual exchange.

All students will be required to apply and be approved, agree to do the Virtual Exchange program by signing a participation form, and then will be provided with the MeetUp Guidelines from their hosting Rotary Club .

A mandatory Zoom Orientation will be held for all students, volunteers/counselors and natural parents before the virtual exchange begins. Breakout rooms will be used to focus on appropriate training for each group, i.e. students or adults.

During the Orientation exchange students will help decide what topics (within reason) they want to share and/or focus on during their MeetUps. Along with the topic there will be some discussion around situations an exchange student may find themselves in and they will be asked “What would you do?”. This will help keep them engaged as they’ll be learning what interests them about each other’s country and culture.

The virtual exchange process follows a normal in-person STEP program structure, which is a family-to-family exchange. Host families during the virtual exchange will be the matched students’ families, just the same. The students and their families will agree on the flexible times for the student’s MeetUps and will ensure they occur. They will also periodically communicate with the students’ Rotary Counselor. The students and families will agree who is going to start sharing their country first. This student will spend the first 4-weeks on their country and the match will then take the last 4-weeks to share their country environment and culture.

During these MeetUp students will share things about their home, city, country, cultural traditions, school, etc. What students identified during the Orientation will drive these conversations. Students will be encouraged to create brief (2 minute) videos for sharing that recap something about their MeetUp or showcases something the students did, i.e. a sport, dance, song….done virtually,,,,,or highlighting what they’ve learned from each other. Videos will be uploaded to a secure site for sharing. Students can break their MeetUp into two parts during a particular week if that works best for the activity they plan. They can do as many virtual meetings as they want, as long as their parents agree and monitor some. Rotarian counselors and past exchange students (ROTEX) can help, too. We want students to have fun with this.

A Group Zoom will be held every other week and will include all participating students, Rotarian counselors/volunteers, mentors. Students’ parents will be encouraged to participate. This meeting can count as a “Meet-Up” for the students that week, if needed. Time will also be provided for students to “hang-out” in a breakout room, with adults staying in the main Zoom room to visit and share.

If possible, each student’s supporting Rotary club should invite both students to one Club meeting during the 8 weeks. For example: The student chosen to start first would work with their Counselor to set up their attendance some time during the first 4-weeks and they would attend the match student’s club sometime during the last 4-weeks. Understanding the time of the club meetings may not be feasible time zones to do this.

Rotary Club Counselor Coordinators will provide a short bi-weekly update/report for their matched students to the RYE Inbound Chair, in YEAH, as part of the student’s accountability process. Counselors will be vetted and approved in the normal manner with RYE. They will be mentors for their 2 students during the virtual exchange, while letting the students take the lead on activities.

Because students are so adept at video conferencing and most are in distance learning, we’re confident they will enjoy this opportunity. The RYE Chair and Committee members will be available to assist with potential challenges or issues.

We plan to give every participant that completes all MeetUps and attends all Group Zooms recognition for their efforts.

Rotary Youth Exchange District 5180 | High School Study Abroad | Greater-Sacramento Area | California

Clubs will provide the dollars for US students to receive:

D5180 RYE Name Badge

Backpack (which can also be used if they apply for a STEP or long-term exchange in the future)

Certificate of Completion


Partnering Country District Students (Inbounds) to receive via mail:

D5180 Rotary pins & some Rotary Year Theme pins

D5180 RYE T-shirt

Certificate of Completion