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, 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. Students must be between 15 ½ and 17 years old to participate. The students will experience another country's 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 short-term program structure, which is a family-to-family exchange. Host families during the virtual exchange will be matched with the students’ families. Students and their families will agree on the flexible times for the students' MeetUps and will ensure they occur. They will also periodically communicate with the students’ Rotary Counselor.

During the MeetUp students will share things about their home, city, country, cultural traditions, school, etc. 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 the meetings. Rotarian counselors and past exchange students (ROTEX) can help, too. We want students to have fun with this.

A Group Zoom will be held three times throughout the session and will include all participating students, Rotarian counselors/volunteers, and mentors. Students’ parents will be encouraged to participate. Time will also be provided for students to break into smaller gropus for futher meetings between different countries and cultures.

If possible, each student’s supporting Rotary club should invite both students to one Club meeting during the 8 weeks.

Rotary Club Counselor Coordinators 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

To participate, complete the Short-Term application located at this link: