Rotary Youth Exchange (RYE), the most successful exchange program in the world for high school students, began in 1927 with the Rotary Club of Nice, France. In 1939, a more extensive program was initiated between the clubs of California and Latin America, and in 1972, the Central States Youth Exchange Program became the nucleus for major expansion. RYE is not associated with The Rotary Foundation; it is open to families of Rotarians. It is a program coordinated by Rotary clubs and districts that allows students, at their families’ expense, to spend up to a year attending school in another country as a member of Rotary-approved host families. Internationally, over 9,000 students participate in RYE each year. District 6220 is one of the most active of the 15 districts that use Central States to assist in the coordination of country-district-club matches. The objectives of RYE are:
- To further international goodwill and understanding by enabling students to study firsthand some of the accomplishments and problems of people in other parts of the world;
- To enable students to advance their education by studying for a year in an environment different from their own;
- To broaden their own outlook by learning to live with and meet people of different cultures and creeds;
- To act as ambassadors of their country, state, and hometown by addressing Rotary clubs, community organizations, and youth groups in their host country; and share as much knowledge as they can of their country and discuss its attributes, good and bad, with the people they meet during their year in a host country; and,
Following their return form their year abroad, to share with others in their local community and beyond the knowledge they have gained from their exchange experience.
To qualify to be a RYE Student, students who will be age 16 to 18 ½ at the start of the exchange and are in the upper half of their academic class, must apply through their local Rotary club the prior September. If their application (interviews with the students and their parents are required) is accepted, the student must pay a registration fee and will be required to participate in four conferences to prepare them for their year abroad. They will be responsible for their own airfare, spending money, and incidental expenses during their year abroad; room and board (host families) and a monthly allowance are provided through their hosting Rotary club.