Summer Exchange Between Families

Short Term Exchange Program

STEP on to an airplane

STEP in to a new country

STEP in to a new family

STEP into a new culture

STEP up your game!


Rotary Youth Exchange’s STEP program is a true family to family exchange. Students live with a foreign student’s family for two to four weeks and then both students return to the United States where the foreign student lives with the student’s family for the same period of time.

Fill out our interest form to receive email updates about our program. 

The Short-Term Exchange Program (STEP) is offered in some, but not all, districts in Rotary Youth Exchange Southeast.  Please check your district’s page for more information on the Short-Term Exchange Program, its availability, and application information for summer 2024.


Requirements to participate

  • Must be between 15-19 years old
  • Student must be adventurous and open to change
  • No school attendance required
  • Must have a valid passport
  • Available to travel/host during the summer months

Rotary Coordinates

  • Complete background checks
  • Match student with host country and family 
  • Conduct home visits
  • Conduct parent/student training

Time Line

  • September and October attend information session
  • Fall – Apply (district apply dates vary)
  • Spring – Find out your family match 
  • Summer – Travel 


$750 Program Fee


  • Application Fee
  • Home visit and background check
  • Orientation meeting
  • CISI insurance while abroad
  • Youth Protection card
  • Special T-shirt

Family Responsible for

  • Passport
  • Airline tickets
  • Visa (if required)
  • Spending money


Short Term Exchange Program

Is proficiency in a foreign language needed?

No. The program is cultural in nature but is also for a short period of time. Many countries throughout the world teach English as a second language and most participating students are quite proficient in speaking our language. If you have taken a foreign language in high school and elect to visit a country that speaks that language, you will be able to gain some conversational ability. Most students do not find language to be a barrier in having a great exchange experience.

What is so special about Rotary’s Short Term Exchange Program compared to other programs?

The Rotary International Short Term Exchange Program is volunteer driven. It is organized and administered by volunteer Rotarians throughout the world. The operation is done at several levels; namely the local Rotary Club, the district and the regional levels. They screen the students, prepare them, arrange hosting abroad, insurance, etc. All this work is done by Rotarians as a service. They are not paid to provide this service. At times of immediate need, students who are away from home will be more comfortable knowing that Rotarians will be available to help and offer guidance.

Why is it called an exchange program?

You will be matched with a student of the same gender in a country of your preference. The two of you will spend an agreed upon time together – half of that time in your home and half of the time in their home. Typical visitations are 3-4 weeks each way. It will be up to you and your foreign host family to agree upon the actual dates of the exchange. Your family and your host family decide who will travel first.

Is this a mutual exchange?

Yes, a student will live with a foreign family for approximately 3-4 weeks. When he or she returns, the host brother or sister will also fly back with the student and stay with the U.S. student’s family. The stay here will also be for approximately 3-4 weeks.

Many more questions and answers...

May my student select which country to go to?

Every effort will be given to match a student with his/her first choice of countries, but cannot be guaranteed. Availability of foreign students varies year-by-year. We have a good track record at matching students with one of their top 3 country choices.

May I request which gender my student may exchange with?

No, we match the exchanges by same gender/similar age/similar interests. We also watch for critical issues such as a family who will accommodate special needs if necessary (dietary, allergy related).

Exchange Dates

The actual dates of the exchange will be coordinated by you and your host family. Typically, summer exchange programs occur during June, July, and August when you are out of school.

What is the expected timeframe to finalize these arrangements?

After your application and fee is accepted, home visit and background checks approved, and then the process to make your match will be arranged. Finding a match in the country of your choice is the responsibility of the Short Term Exchange committee members.

The matching process is dependent upon: When applications are received, the number of applications received and the gender and interests of applicants.

How does the flight get booked?

When making airline reservations please confirm with everyone involved the flight airline/arriving airport/dates/times are exact. The cost of the round-trip airfare is your responsibility.

How much does it cost?

$750 Program Fee which includes the cost of processing application, home visit, background checks, medical insurance while abroad, T-shirt, and an orientation meeting.

  • Administration Refund Policy: In the unfortunate event that you need to cancel your exchange before your are matched there $250.00 is non-refundable. After your country-family match the $750 program fee is non refundable… (for the 2020 summer) 
  • Please remember – if you cancel your exchange after a match has been arranged then your new sibling has no place to go to and will need to stay home. This is a major disappointment. It is incredibly important to be sure of following through on your exchange prior to making this commitment.
  • Cost of round-trip airfare from your home to the foreign country is not included in the program fee.
  • Let your Rotary Coordinator know your travel dates as soon as they are confirmed. Insurance coverage needs to be arranged to cover the specific dates you are traveling.
  • There is also the cost of having a guest in your house for 3-4 weeks and the additional cost of any excursions or events you may attend.
  • You must obtain a passport and visa (if required).
  • Provide your own spending money for the duration of the exchange.

 What are the host family’s obligations? 

You are expected to treat your host student as you would your own child. It is also appropriate to entertain the student beyond the normal family activities to give him/her the best opportunity to experience American culture. For example, family vacations to a summer cottage, a relative’s home, or even another state are normal. Room, board, travel expenses incurred in the States are paid for by the host family as they would if the visiting student were a normal family member. Special outings to the zoo, to a baseball game, to a museum, etc. should also be provided. American students should have NO job/school commitments during the exchange period so they can spend time with their foreign students. We have found that our students are treated first class when they travel abroad. We would like the American host family to reciprocate with a first class experience for the foreign students.

What responsibility does the District STEP coordinator have?

Each coordinator MUST interview the student applicant to insure he or she will be a good ambassador for their community. The coordinator is also responsible for ensuring the student’s home is appropriate to host the inbound student. The Rotary Club President and Youth Exchange Officer MUST sign the application.

How is the student involved in Rotary?

The student (and family, if they desire) are expected to attend 1 Rotary Club meeting prior to departure. This will give them a basis of what to expect if they attend a club meeting overseas with their host sibling and family. Every exchange student, both long term and short term, are sponsored by a local Rotary club. These students are ambassadors for not only their family and their country but also for Rotary. As so, proper dress should be worn when attending the meeting (church attire), handshakes and introductions should be given freely, and if possible, a quick (30 second) introduction of yourself and where you are going.

Am I expected to attend an orientation?

Yes, a formal orientation will be set up in the April/May timeframe, ahead of summer departures. The student and at least one parent MUST attend the orientation session. Your Rotary STEP Coordinator will advise you the exact information.

How much money should the student take?

Again, this will be a personal issue. It will be up to the student and family to decide what works best in their own situation. Students have been known to leave with $400.00 and come back with $150.00. They’ve also been known to leave with $1,000.00 and call home for more. This must be a personal decision based upon the individual’s situation.

My student has graduated from high school. May she/he still apply?

Yes, the age limits are from 15 to 19.

May the student participate in this program more than once?

Yes, they may even want to apply for the long term exchange after visiting a country for the summer. We believe the short term summer exchange can complement the 11 month long term exchange program.

Preparing To Go Abroad

If you have a valid passport, the expiration dates must NOT end within three months of the END of your exchange.  If it does, plan on re-applying for a new one.  If you do not have a passport at all, apply now. At least one parent should also have a valid passport.

Your Summer Match 

When a suitable Summer match is made by the STEP Coordinator, the families should immediately begin communicating with each other. Use email, Skype with video, and other means of communications.  
Develop a clear understanding of the plans for family activities to be undertaken in each country. Communicate your goals and wishes for the exchange with the host family.

Before you arrange flights, inform the STEP Coordinator that you are prepared to move forward with your match.  As soon as you have the arranged flight plans, email your flight itinerary to the STEP Coordinator at [email protected].  

For your time abroad with RYE, you must be insured on a medical and liability plan.  Before you travel we will provide you with your insurance information and confirmation with CISI insurance.  

What to Pack 

•Take clothes that fit a range of occasions including formal. (ex: pack one pair of dress shoes)
•Closet space abroad may be limited
•Remember appropriate plug adapters – your flat iron/hair dryer will not work abroad
•If you wear glasses or contact lenses bring an extra pair
•Carry your phone with essential numbers such as STEP Coordinator
•Avoid over packing – cars are smaller abroad
•Remember to bring host family gift
•Carry medications with the original prescriptions

Learn Something about your Host Country
Purchase a guide book about your country, the people, food, culture, etc.  Download an app on your phone with phrases to practice prior to departure.  

You should carry with you a small gift of appreciation for your host family/siblings.  The gifts do not have to be expensive but something from Florida is suggested.  Examples are:  postcards as thank you notes, Disney pins, American flags, picture book about Florida (paperback/9.00). Think about something that might be important to your host mother or father also.  Thoughtful gifts are the best.

Guidelines for Host Parents

Treatment of Host Son or Daughter 

Host parents, treat your host son or daughter the way you would treat your own child.  Consider their safety and comfort while on exchange.  
Typically the host family is expected to pay for expenses considered family activities such as dining out, hotel costs, holiday trips, etc. except for spending money/souvenirs. If you intend for your host child to pay for expenses, these must be voiced prior to the exchange.  

While on Exchange

While on Exchange

Host Family 
You should ask your host parent what they would like for you to call them.  Usually students call host parents by their first names.  You might even ask them this question before you depart.  The section on “First Night Questions” will provide more information on questions to ask.

Host families have different situations so you might have your own room.  However, you should be prepared to share a room with our host sibling of the same gender as you.  You will, of course, have your own bed.

Remember that your host family is under NO obligation to adjust to your ways or customs or to treat you like a special guest.  You are expected to accept the normal discipline and supervision of the family and settle into their normal routine.

If problems do arise while on exchange, contact your host club counselor or your STEP Exchange District Coordinator.


After the excitement of new experiences, you may find yourself being homesick.  Try to keep yourself busy and occupied with activities.  An open discussion with your host family may help. Also, constant communication with your family back home may worsen your homesickness so try and limit this contact.

Be Present 
Take the opportunities to join in a group or family activities.  You are there to make new friends and experience new adventures. The more involved you become, the more present you will become in your exchange.

Have an Open Mind
An open mind should be kept on controversial issues such as religion, race, or politics.  You should try to see the other point of view even if you do not agree.  Be tactful when your host parents or siblings express views different from yours.  But you must also be yourself. Someone who never engages in conversation or asks the question “why” can be seen as shallow. Share your thoughts on issues while being mindful of how it sounds to your host family.  You don’t want to says something you wish you could take back.


You will be traveling to your host country alone but will be returning with your host sibling or vice versa.    Independent travel in your host country without proper adult supervision is prohibited without prior approval from both host parents. You may NOT make travel arrangements on your own.

For emergency use only, take and set aside $100 USD.  You should also have cash for spending money at the airports while traveling.  Applying for a credit or ATM card to carry is also a good idea.  Some US banks offer credit cards with no foreign exchange fees.  A joint ATM card with your parents might also be useful for cash withdraws.

Personal Behavior 
Always remember you are an ambassador for Rotary Youth Exchange and should act and dress accordingly (No shorty-shorts or micro-skirts).

The 6-D’s

• Drugs – students are not allowed to possess or use illegal drugs. Do not smoke.
• Drinking – no drinking
• Driving – NO student is allowed to operate motorized vehicles
• Dating – students must avoid serious romantic activities while on exchange.  Students must abstain from any sexual activity and promiscuity.
• Disfigurement – students are NOT allowed to get any tattoos or piercings while on exchange
• Dumb Stuff – don’t be the “ugly” American.  Don’t do stupid things.  Don’t break the law.

The 6-B’s
(written by Pauline Perreault- CEO of Jump Outta Bed, Inc.)

B First – Be a Person of Action
Take on interest in your host family.  Practice your language prior to departure.

B Curious – I Seek to Understand 
Ask why?  Why are there cultural differences between you. (ex: why does your family eat beans for breakfast, why do take 16 classes at school). Share your culture with them.  Cook a dish.

B on Purpose – I look for Opportunities Wherever I Go 
Did your exchange happen by accident?  Did you create your path? Your boat will take you from point A to point B on your exchange and you never have to lift a finger.  But your most amazing experiences will happen when YOU are the captain of your boat. Take advance of simple, everyday events like a walk with your host mom or a bus trip to the grocery.

B of Service – I Give of Myself 
Offer to walk the family dog.  Make pancakes for your host family one morning. Learn about world news so you can engage in conversation.  Be an ambassador- find out how you can make a difference.

B Grateful – I Focus on Things I can be Thankful For 
My parents sacrificed so that I could do this.  Use FL postcards to leave Thank You notes for little things people do for you. Share with your host siblings.

B Here NOW – I Live in the Moment 
If you spend one hour a day on Facebook or Skype with friends and family back home then you’ve lost 2 full days of your exchange.  Spend that time instead on watching TV with your host sibling or taking that walk with your host mom.   Manage your communication back home. Be excited every morning you wake up as the day will be filled with new adventures.  Return with NO regrets.  Keep a journal and write a small note each day of what you did.

To Be A Successful Exchange Student- How to you want to be remembered?
•Do not stay in your room all the time – find the balance
•Say Thank You often – write thank you notes.
•Offer to help with dinner or cleaning the table after dinner.
•Try new foods even if you don’t like them – at least you tried.
•Share with your host family – share your culture, your dreams and goals
•Always let your host family know where you are.
•If your host parents are doing a project around the house – offer to help
•Your parents might work, so expect some down time during your exchange.
•Make your bed each morning and keep your room neat. Help coordinate your laundry.
•Don’t spend too much time on the computer or phone.  NEVER have your phone at dinner or during family time.  If being driving by an adult, do not be on your phone
•Be nice. Avoid eating too fast or too much.

First Night Questions
1.What do I call you?
2.What do you want me to do in the house in addition to making my bed?
3.What is the laundry procedure?
4.Should I wash my own clothes?
5.Where should I keep my toiletries?
6.What time are meals?
7.Can I assist at mealtime with setting the table, etc.?
8.Are there areas of the house or community I shouldn’t go?
9.What time do you usually awake?
10.What time do you usually go to bed?
11.Do my host siblings have any dislikes I should know?
12.Do you attend church?
13.Do you have wireless in your home?  May I have the password if there is one?

Rotary Clubs – you may attend a Rotary meeting abroad, so we suggest attending one here prior to your travels.  Your STEP Coordinator can assist you with finding a club to attend.

Application Process

In Rotary Youth Exchange you apply to the Rotary district where you live, and you will be sponsord by a local Rotary club. The application process is the same with a few small local variation on application deadline, informaiton session and trainign sessions.

  1. Fill out the interest form
  2. Attend an information meeting in your district with your parents
  3. Fill out the online application (our STEP corrdinator will send you a link)
  4. Mail additonal application paper work with payment of the program fee
  5. Home interview
  6. Country/Family Match
  7. Before-you-go training session
  8. Pack your bags!

If you live in
Rotary District 

IF YOU LIVE IN Florida counties: Bay, Calhoun, Columbia, Dixie , Escambia, Franklin, Gadsden, Gilchrist, Gulf, Hamilton, Holmes, Jackson, Jefferson, Lafayette, Leon, Levy, Liberty, Madison, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa, Suwannee, Taylor, Wakulla, Walton, Washington

David Pienta
District Co-chair
[email protected]

December 1

If you live in
Rotary District 


IF YOU LIVE IN Florida counties: Citrus, Hernando, Pasco, Pinellas Counties in Florida


District 6950 Chair
PDG Jamie Mick 
(727) 642-8041
[email protected] 
Rotary Club of Holiday

December 1

If you live in
Rotary District 


IF YOU LIVE IN Florida counties: Alachua, Baker, Bradford, Clay, Duval, Flagler, Marion, Nassau, Putnam, St. Johns, Union, Volusia

STEP Chairman
Andrew Peterson
[email protected]

RC of Jacksonville Oceanside

December 1

If you live in
Rotary District 


IF YOU LIVE IN Broward, Miami – Dade and Monroe Counties in Southeast Florida and Grand Bahama Island, Bahamas


Terrell Manyak
Davie-Cooper City Rotary
(C) 954-278-2065
[email protected]

December 1