Short Term Exchange Program
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The objective of the Rotary Short-Term Exchange Program is to foster world peace, international understanding, and good will by extending international experience at the personal level through the exchange of high school age students.
The Rotary Short-Term Exchange Program often referred to as “STEP”, presents opportunities for students to advance their knowledge and world understanding by allowing them to visit a different country for a limited period. This is a family-to-family exchange program where participating students live with a matched host family in another country from three to six weeks in the summer facilitated by and under the sponsorship of a local Rotary Club.
As a District 5180 (D5180) Rotary STEP student, you will spend 3 to 6 weeks hosted by a family who has a high school aged daughter/son. All STEP exchanges are same gender, i.e. 2 girls or 2 boys exchange with each other. All Rotary International Youth Protection Policies apply to this as they do for the Long-Term Exchange program.
The student host families must be approved in the same manner as all host families participating in RYE. The student lives with a student’s family in another country for 3 to 6 weeks before returning home together with the foreign student for the following 3 to 6 weeks, for a total 6 to 12-week experience for the students. For example:
A German STEP girl will live with a matched USA STEP girl and her family (US host family) for 3 to 6 weeks. Then both girls will go live in Germany with the German girl and her family (German host family) for 3 to 6 weeks, when the USA STEP girl will return home. The total exchange experience is 6 to 12 weeks for the two girls.
These exchanges will take place when school is not in session and usually do not include an academic program. The exception would be some Latin American countries whose students are in school during the summer months. However, this is not an academic exchange even if you were to attend a school in Latin America for a few weeks as a guest and not an enrolled student.
The Short-Term Exchange is a travel opportunity, not focused on immersion with the culture. The Hosting family becomes the tour guide for your foreign exchange student, sharing your country's culture, sights, and its many opportunities.
STEP Program Details:
- Direct Exchange Description: A student exchanging with one foreign student for a period of 3 to 6-weeks in each country, or for whatever period is agreed to by the two families.
- Eligibility: Aged 15 to 17 years.
- Countries: Although we ask for and carefully consider your country choice, it is the successful matching of students that is the key to success for both students and families.
Application: To become a STEP student you must first submit a preliminary Short-Term Exchange application to a Rotary Club in District 5180. Click HERE to get started!
A list of D5180 Rotary Clubs with their President’s email on the D5180 RYE website is available HERE.
The sponsoring club may require the student to complete the full application before the club interview. Once the student has been interviewed by the Rotary Club and they agree to sponsor the student’s Short Term exchange, the club will forward approval to Jeannine Sparks, Short-Term Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Upon approval to move forward the student will complete the full online STEP application, if they haven't already, and other required documents.
The Short-Term Application link is: https://yehub.net/W18-stapp
STEP exchanges will take place during summer 2024, and the deadline for applications is February 1, 2024. These dates are subject to change. Again, applicants must have had their sponsor club interview and sponsor club approval submitted to the STEP Coordinator (prior to February 1, 2024).
- Students are selected at the District RYE Committee interview on March 2, 2024. Appointment date and time will be set up with the student and their family via email from the STEP Coordinator.
- A $500 deposit payable to District 5180 RYE, which will include travel insurance payment and administrative fee, is paid at the time of District interview.
- Students and parents must attend the Outbound and Host Family orientations on March 30,2024, and May 11, 2024. Orientations are mandatory for both the students and parents.
- Matching of students will take place during March and April. Upon matching completion students and family communication can begin and families can purchase airline tickets with travel beginning in mid-June for some.
- Prior to departure, the student will receive their medical insurance (covered in the deposit).
- A Host Family Orientation must be performed prior to the Inbound student’s arrival.
STEP Outbound and Host Family Orientation:
This is mandatory for the student and parents/guardian to attend. The Orientation dates are March 30, 2024 and May 11, 2024. Covered at the Orientations will be the purpose of STEP, financial commitment, time commitment, rules, insurance, travel, communication, responsibilities of the Host family and FAQs, as well as a few other helpful items.
Travel arrangements are the sole responsibility of the families involved and the travel arrangement preferably should be done through a Travel Agency. D5180 uses It’s Your World Travel for their Long-Term exchange students and information can be provided should you wish to use them. They understand the nuances of international travel and can be very helpful in making travel arrangements go smoothly.
Student medical insurance will be provided through CISI-Bolduc (the same insurance carriers as our Long Term). D5180 RYE will purchase this insurance on behalf of the student and will pay the cost from the student’s $500 payment.
An Administration fee of $100 is included in the $500 payment.
Typical Family STEP Budget:
Typical costs for students to participate in STEP are (prices are examples and can vary depending on the dollar value and other variables):
- Passport - $100
- Airlines - $1,800 (depending upon destination)
- RYE - $500 (administration fee, medical/travel insurance, blazer, Rotary pins, orientation, miscellaneous items)
- Optional Costs are gifts (approximately $100) and spending money (approximately $200)
The above costs do not include obtaining a Visa, if needed, cell phone costs nor the cost of hosting your new friend.
STEP students sign the same Rules and Conditions of Exchange as the Long Term students and it is important that they adhere to the rules at both ends of the exchange. The one exception is driving in their OWN country as per the laws where they reside.
The student CANNOT drive in the country where they are being hosted (the foreign country).
This program is fully funded by the student and their parents. The student may obtain a credit or debit card with parental consent. A club may provide a stipend to the student, but this is a rare occurrence.
Special Requests – Food Allergies:
The matching countries will do their best to accommodate various requests and allergies. However, this can delay or prohibit exchanges to certain areas. Rotary will advise this to the student as soon as possible.
- Complete online application form and attend Rotary Club (sponsor club) interviews.
- Upon acceptance complete the online STEP application and required forms.
- Pay the $500 STEP fee at the District RYE interview. Should the student NOT be accepted for some reason $450 will be returned, with $50 being kept for RYE administrative costs.
- Understand and sign the D5180 rules.
- Attend the orientation (student and at least one parent)
- Upon obtaining the match, start communication between families and students. Get to know each other; negotiate who travels first; arrange travel so that on one-leg of the flight students travel together.
- Meet the inbound student upon arrival.
- As the host, help the inbound student feel at home and as a member of the family allowing the same privileges and giving responsibilities as to your own family members.
- Take time to ensure the inbound student is happy, entertained and healthy. Students should not work or have other commitments during the inbound stay.
- Students may be required to address Rotary Clubs, other service organizations, youth groups and community groups during their stay in the host country and will, on their return to the United States, be expected to address similar groups on their experience as an exchange student.
- During their stay abroad, students may be expected to attend any official Rotary and Youth Exchange Program functions as directed by their host club.
- Students are ambassadors for their home countries and must at all times behave in a manner which will reflect positively on their families, communities and country.
- Students must travel directly to and return directly from their host countries. Students are not allowed to stay in the host country after the termination of the exchange period.