Study Abroad with Rotary!

Traverse City area students actively participate in the Rotary International Youth Exchange program. Often they learn of the program through a school counselor, or through in-school visits by members of our two Traverse City Rotary clubs.

Students apply, are interviewed and selected to the program. This process launches an exciting series of activities including weekend retreats where they have a chance to meet with inbound students from throughout the District. Eventually they learn which country, Rotary Club and, eventually, host-family will be their home during the upcoming year.



What is Rotary Youth Exchange?

Rotary Youth Exchange is a study abroad program that aims to build peace one student at a time by providing a year's experience living in another country, learning a new language, and gaining new perspectives.

How much does RYE cost?

Local Rotary Clubs (there are two in Traverse City) sponsor students for their year abroad. Families are only responsible for costs of preparation conferences/retreats, travel and visa fees. These costs are approximately $5,000-7,000 total for the year. The first payment of $1500 is due in October (conferences fee). Payment plans are available.

Where will I live while abroad?

Rotary arranges two to three host families, typically other Rotarians or local people involved with Rotary, for students to live with. All host families are vetted and receive training/orientation prior to hosting. Staying with host families allows students to be truly immersed in the local culture, have unique experiences, learn what daily life is like, and practice language learning. 

Who is eligible to apply for Rotary Youth Exchange?

Students apply the year before they will study abroad and must be 15.5 to 18.5 years old at the time of departure. Rotary requires a minimum 2.75 GPA for the last two years, and encourages students to be proactive about completing high school graduation requirements. Applicants should be curious, be able to demonstrate great flexibility and adaptability, and show maturity to represent Rotary and the U.S. as ambassadors of peace and understanding.

Do I have to know a second language to apply?

No! Rotary does not require language fluency in a second language to apply. Selected countries do have language requirements or require students to attend a language camp at the start of exchange.  

How do I select my country for exchange?

With Rotary you rank your country choices and can "refuse" certain countries, but the final match is made by Rotary! Part of the exciting and fun part of studying abroad with Rotary is that it is a true one-to-one exchange program. For every student we send out on exchange from our area, we welcome a student in to our local area for the year. Rotary matches you to a country based on your rankings as well as other application factors. You will find out your host country typically in January of the year you depart. 

What are the academic requirements?

A strong academic background is important. To be eligible students must have a minimum 2.75 GPA (two years of academic history). Students are encouraged to meet with their high school counselor to make a plan for completing high school credits exclusive of the exchange year. Schools do not typically grant a full year's credits while students are abroad.

What is the application timeline?

  • June-September: Attend an information session, complete the online application >
  • Mid-late September: Attend the local interview session with your parents. This is typically held on a Sunday afternoon. You will be notified that evening of your acceptance at the local level.
  • October: Attend a District Rotary Youth Exchange interview conference (Friday-Sunday). Parents join on Sunday for further education and interviews. Conference fee (covering five conferences) of approximately $1500 due. Partial refund if not fully accepted into RYE.
  • Early November: Notification of acceptance at the District level. Attend an application seminar via Zoom for the District visa application and background forms. Schedule doctor and dentist visits.
  • November: Complete District RYE Visa Application & Background forms (these require doctor and dentist visits). Forms are due before the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • January: Country assignments revealed at your sponsoring Club Rotary meeting!
  • February: Attend second training conference, typically in Canada, with inbound exchange students.
  • April: Attend third training conference.
  • July: Attend fourth training conference, typically held at Calvin University and attended by students from all of Central States Rotary Youth Exchange (inbound and outbound students).
  • August: Depart for exchange!

Ready to apply?

Here are your next steps: