Youth Exchange promotes
Via its youth exchange program, Rotary wishes to promote understanding between different cultures, good will, and peace. These exchange programs form one of Rotary’s most central and well-known forms of activity. Globally more than 8,000 young people take part in a Rotary exchange every year. The different options include a school year exchange, summer exchange, and camp exchange. The Rotary Youth Exchange Program is a safe and inexpensive option thanks to the Rotary network. We provide thorough orientation to all program participants and offer an extensive volunteer safety net for the students. The Rotary multidistrict organisation coordinates the youth exchange programs on a country level.
From district 1420, about 30 students take part in a school year exchange each year. The numbers depend on how many clubs participate in the yearly exchange programs. The number of applicants always exceeds the number of available slots. For season 2019–2020, 32 students took part in the yearly exchange. (Students chosen for season 2020–2021 will take part in exchanges for season 2021–2022. We also aim to choose new students.)
The number of students in summer exchange programs varies greatly each year. Usually, all applicants have got in to summer exchange programs. In recent years, about 5-10 students per district have applied for a summer exchange. Our district aims to increase the number of summer exchange participants in the coming years. About 10-15 young people go to an international camp abroad every year.
District 1420 also organises camps for the young coming to Finland from other countries. In summer 2016, the Helsinki-Pasila Rotary Club organised a camp where the theme was the Baltic Sea with 18 young participants, and in 2017 the Tartu-Hansa Rotary Club in Estonia organised a camp of Healthy Adventure in Estonia with 19 young people attending. Vihti-Nummela Rotary Club set up a camp entitled The Protection of Nature and Water in summer 2019. 18 young people attended this camp. Most of the young attending these camps are from European countries, or Rotary’s EEMA area, but we have had participants all the way from Taiwan. In 2018, district 1420 did not organise a summer camp.
After the exchange, Rotex
All students returning from an exchange are invited to participate in Rotex activities. Former exchange students – rotexes – help the multidistrict and districts in advising students about to go on an exchange and arrange various activities for foreign exchange students coming to Finland. Rotexes can also work as tutors at summer camps, on trips organised by the youth exchange (Lapland, St. Petersburg, and Eurotour), and at orientation camps for arriving students. Rotex works under the multidistrict organisation of the Finnish Rotary Service Youth Exchange, and rotexes follow Rotary’s rules.
Read more about Rotary’s youth exchange in Finland at www.rye.fi.
Would you like to hear more about getting into an exchange program, becoming a host family, or joining as a Rotary volunteer to help the young? Please contact district 1420’s youth exchange committee.
Erik Rosenlew, Helsinki Finlandia Hall