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Topic Started: Tue Jan 20, 2015 1:28 pm (2,104 Views)
I know we have a few Rotary students (or past students) in the community, and a few of us who aren't directly involved know a bit through our friends who were. If anyone has any questions or just wants to compare nifty blazers, have at it!
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Woo! Rotary!

A question for those who have been on exchange with Rotary(if anyone still active on these forums was):

How much were you allowed to travel within your host country/district? When I had my district interview the inbound coordinator said he only needs to be notified if an inbound is leaving the state of North Carolina. Like that's a pretty big area to be allowed to travel within.

What's it like in that regard in other countries? I enjoy biking long distances and would love to travel a lot around my host country but I'm not sure how much I'll be allowed to do.
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Hi Patty, great question. I was an inbound student in Brazil. In my personal experience I feel like I had a lot of freedom to travel, under the circumstances that I communicated it with my host family, host club, and less extent, my host district. I did not make many independent, long-distance trips. I did participate in several exchange-related tours and let my district coordinator know. At the end of one of those trips I did some independent travel to two different cities, both a fair bit away from where I was staying, but one the way back from the larger, Rotary-related trip. I organized the trip beforehand and was also staying with older children of my host parents, so they were clearly safe, secure, contacts. This was fairly late in my exchange, so I had built up trust and good rapport with my club and district, and could handle myself in Portuguese. As such, I had no problems being allowed to do this. Throughout my exchange I took trips with my host families to some faraway places such as out of the district, state, and even country (I lived close to a border.) Travel with host families didn’t need to be approved at the club or district level.

Of course, every Rotary club and district will have different expectations, so be sure to ask when you arrive. Exchange programs should have your safety and security first, so I would expect them to wary if you express the desire to say, go on a multi-day bike trip on your own, where they may not know with whom or where you are staying. If you’d like further thoughts on your personal situation, it would be helpful to know more what you mean regarding long-distance bike trips.
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Oh I didn't mean like super long bike trips that would take days, I was talking more like 20-40 miles :P

Thanks for the information. Honestly it's now the least of my worries though, as my top choice is no longer available. I hate to feel this way since Rotary is a lot more affordable than other programs and the Rotarians are doing everything for free but I'm very frustrated with Rotary. I've been trying to apply since September 2014, and I've shown my interest since a year before then. Now, the two countries I wanted to go to the most are unavailable because of how late I'm applying.

I just feel so angry. None of this was my fault and I probably would have gotten one of my top 3 choices if I had been able to apply months ago when I was ready. And the worst part is I still don't know if I'll even be able to get my application in before the end of January. Honestly, if two more countries that were on my list become unavailable before I can turn in my application I think I'll call it off. I don't even think my parents would let me go anyway because the countries I originally wanted to go to were safe and economically/politically stable places and now I'll have to put down some options they may not agree with.

I really want to go on a foreign exchange year but I'm becoming less and less confident as I keep waiting.
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What problems did you run into and why were you not able to apply earlier when you were first interested? I know we pretty much had to lead our local Rotary since this is their first experience with Youth Exchange.
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Well, a series of events made things go a lot slower.

First off, I wanted to apply in the summer but was going to move over the summer and I didn't know if I'd stay in the district or not. So that pretty much made me unable to do anything until August when I was moved in. So here's the timeline of why it took so long from there:

1. I email the nearest Rotary club using contact information from their website. Don't get anything back, so a week or two later I email another nearby Rotary club. They respond pretty quickly and said they're going to try setting up an interview soon with their youth exchange committee.

2. After following up after a few weeks of getting nothing back (I wasn't really in a hurry at that point, it was like September) I finally do the club interview at the very end of September. The interview went great, but they had two other interested students and said they'd likely have to partner up with another club to sponsor us all.

3. Fast forward to November and the YEO from the club says that they were thinking of having someone from the district at the parent interview to make things go a little faster. However, they end up having a lot of trouble finding clubs to partner with it seems and this parent interview never happens at the club level. YEO gives me the contact information for the district committee so I can ask them questions since I was getting all the stuff for my application then.

4. Fast forward to the end of December, I've been ready to turn in my application but they still need to find a sponsor club. I have an interview with the district committee with my parents there and it was very nice and informative, and at that point only my top choice had been filled up so I was fine with committing to the other countries on my list. They said hopefully they'd be able to find a sponsor club within the next two weeks and get my application turned in.

So here I am at the end of January and half of the countries I wanted to originally have on my country list are no longer available. While it looks like they might find a sponsor club very soon, I'm starting to consider just leaving exchange for my senior year. I would at least like to have a chance with some of the countries I wanted to go to, and just have more time to prepare for it. Also, I'll barely be able to afford going my junior year (working 20 hours a week) and it would be a lot less stressful to just wait another year. I'm still considering it a lot because it is a big decision to make and I haven't talked to my school counselor about it yet but I really think it might be my best option now.

Sorry for the huge rant, but the answer to your question kind of recquired it. And by no means do I want to make Rotary look bad because I believe they're a wonderful organization and they do a lot to make youth exchange possible. Besides full scholarships programs, RYE is really the only affordable option and to what I've read and experienced they're probably the safest program too. And I feel kind of self-centered too, after all the other students could have been better candidates and I just had less priority.
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Hey Patty, to go back to the biking thing really quick, I think with adequate explanation that people wouldn't have a problem with long bike trips. I'd suggest working up from shorter distances so that your host family is accustomed to you being away and on your own on your bike and gradually work it up in distance. I'm sure there will plenty to explore in a close vicinity anyway before you really need to start venturing out. This will also help you learn if there are any differences in biking in your host country rather than jumping in too quick and maybe having a nasty surprise.

As for your choice dilemma, there's of course always the notion that you should be flexible to your placement. There's always people who receive locations very low on their list or may be placed without giving preferences that have perfectly great years. At the same time, I do think it's fair to have preferences. If waiting for the next application round is a decision you are comfortable with, I think that's a good option to have on the table.

Are you from the USA? Various US Dept. of State programs exist that offer full sponsored year long exchange opportunities for high school students. For next year the applications have already be closed, but you can take a look into programs like NSLI-Y, YES, CBYX, and A-SMYLE for the future.
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A bit of a dumb question here but...
Who would it be better to contact first? The district YEO or my local club? Or does it matter?
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Follow your gut. I'd imagine a Rotarian would be friendly/tactful enough to direct you too the right person if they don't happen to be who you should be contacting first.
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I contacted the local club first by calling someone on the club... They gave me information and then i reached out to the district level because my local club had not sponsored anyone in over 20 years... from there I learned about what conferences i needed to go to, and how to do the applications etc... we filled out our applications together officially at the conference (minus the dr visits/pictures parts) then we had to mail them back in by a certain date after that.
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