What is a Rotary Friendship Exchange? 

Do you enjoy traveling to other countries?  Do you look forward to meeting people from other cultures?  Did you know there’s a great way to travel and have memorable cross-cultural experiences with Rotary?  There is!  It’s called the Rotary Friendship Exchange.

It is an international exchange program for Rotary members from one District to travel to another for fellowship and fun. Participants take turns hosting one another in their homes and clubs.

Who can participate? 

RFE is open to Rotary members, couples and groups. Even non-Rotarians, such as family and friends, can participate. 

What are the benefits? 

  • Learn about other cultures, including the people, food, languages, customs/daily living, and history
  • Broaden intercultural understanding, learn ways your culture is similar and different from your host’s culture
  • Establish friendships for a lifetime
  • Establish a foundation for service
  • Participate in or support a grant project
  • Explore a profession in a different context

On a Rotary Friendship Exchange, you are never just a tourist.  You will explore and discover new cultures and become aware of diverse perspectives or ways of thinking. 

It is a wonderful way to make new friends anywhere in the world and establish international service partnerships. In fact, when you work on a project with another club in a foreign country, you could inquire about doing a Friendship Exchange with the other club members’ families.

There are no restrictions on the number of participants or the exchange duration.
Every District and region are unique; so exchange participants should decide together what works best for them. 

What is the procedure?

For complete, up-to-date overview of Rotary Friendship Exchange, go to this RI website page:  https://www.rotary.org/en/our-programs/friendship-exchange 
The content on this page includes the Exchange Finder Map to find current exchange locations and their districts.
It is possible to arrange your RFE through RI or with help from District 5190 International Service Chair.  Or, you can arrange it personally, such as directly with a club you’ve already made contact with for a project or where a RYE student from your District has lived, for example.

Steps in the process:

1. Preparation
  • Select and then communicate with someone in a potential District, asking when they are open to having a Friendship Exchange and with which clubs. Identify other participants from your club, family, community.
  • Inform your District Governor of your intention to do a Rotary Friendship Exchange – where, when and get approval.
  • Once you make contact with a club, arrange the dates, number of persons the club can host and make your necessary travel arrangements.  
  • Define your purpose in the Friendship Exchange. Friendship exchanges are organized around at least one of three themes: culture, service, and vocation. 
  • Then start your learning preparation about the history, culture(s), customs, and language of the destination country.  You don’t have to speak the native language(s), but it is very helpful to learn key expressions both to get around on your own and to get to know your hosts and fellow Rotarians in the local club.
2. Enjoying Your Stay
  • At the chosen date the team lands in the host country and meets their local Rotarian hosts. 
  • Team members usually stay in Rotarian’s homes. So the lodging and home meals are usually covered.  Note that in some countries, living space is small, and hosts may not be able to accommodate more than 1 guest or no guests.  It would then be necessary to stay at a nearby hotel.
  • The guests are responsible for restaurant and all other out-of-home expenses. 
  • The hosts show their guest local points of interest in relation to your purpose and areas of cultural and historical interest.  Learn to navigate your way around and try new foods, shopping in traditional markets and stores, etc.  Keep an open mind: there will be things you like and don’t like.
3. Upon Completion of Your Exchange:
  • Encourage your hosts to visit your town and Rotary club.
  • Send to RI a report with stories of your visit.  E-mail to: rotary.service@rotary.org
  • Make a presentation to your club on your Friendship Exchange.  Talk to club members and arrange for your club to host members from the club you visited.
  • Stay in contact with your hosts and let them know the impact of your visit in your life and as a Rotarian.

When you are ready to arrange an exchange, consult the RI website and get assistance from:

Carolyn Feuille, District 5190 International Service Chair