Welcome to District 6490's Outbound Program.  This is where you will start your 3 year experience with Rotary, and typically see and do things very few have the chance to experience.

                                                          Rotary's Support Structures

In addition, you will be supported by a network of worldwide volunteers.  With over 1.2 million Rotarians all over the world, there will rarely be a place you cannot find a Rotarian.   Rotary provides many layers of support:

                        Local Support:  Your US Club

Your sponsor club will have have someone to support your initial application process, and if you get approved to the program, should introduce you to the club and have you start to meet your local Rotarians.   

                        Regional Support:  US District Support 
You club belongs to District 6490, and at that level, there are a number of Rotarians that will help you with your main application, and through the entire process.  They will also support you during your year abroad, and make sure you always have connections to help you with any problems that might arise (if they cannot be addressed locally overseas).  They will provide training to be an ambassador as well as what to anticipate with your culture shock and how to deal with your new environment.

                        Super-Regional Support:  Central States Rotary Youth Exchange (CSRYE)

District 6490 belongs to a group of 18 districts called Central States Rotary Youth Exchange.   It is this organization that deals with the visa rules and Department of State tracking needed to make the program run.  CSRYE provides support to districts, but also make available Country Correspondents who have one-on-one personal connections with Rotarians overseas who are on the other side of the exchange.  That way if there are issues that come up, there are personal connections that can be utilized to deal with problems.  

CSRYE also provides an incredibly cool annual conference in Grand Rapids, MI , where Outbound students get further preparation, get to meet other exchange students from the country they are going to, as well as meet "Rebounds" (students who have just come back).   It is also a critical resource for Parents who get to meet other parents in their situation, find out the details of what the exchange year will be like for them, and get to plug in to a network of support that will help them with their year.   This conference typically has over 500 exchange students, and is required for Outbound students, and is  highly encouraged for Rebound Students

                        Regional Support 2.0:   Foreign District Support

Your Rotary club in your destination city will also belong to a district in that country, and that district will also have a clutch of Rotarians who will be supporting your exchange.  You will typically have a RYE Chair an an Inbound coordinator in that foreign district who will support your foreign club with the exchange, as well as provide occasional (sometimes monthly) gatherings and events for the exchange students in that district.  (Every district and country is different , so it is hard to be specific for any prospect's experience)

                        Local Support 2.0:  Your Foreign Club

Your "Host" Rotary club will be the main point of contact with Rotary abroad.  They should have a YEO and a counselor that meets with the student at least once a month each (again , the exact practices will vary), and students will typically attend the Host Rotary club, and make more connections with the Rotarians there.   Most administrative and logistical issues will be handled by that foreign YEO once you arrive in that country.

                        Your Host Families 

Though there is variation in everyone's experience, Rotary typically will have 3 host families set up for each student, so that you stay with each for about 3.5 months.  Again, there is a lot of local variation, but this template allows for you to be exposed to 3 different "micro-cultures" of 3 different families. .... it is amazing just how much different families work differently from each other (though it is also amazing just how similar somethings are across all humans and all families).  Your host family will be your daily support ... they are encouraged to treat you like one of their own family.  They are the anchor for your schooling as well, and so you may either find yourself going to the same school as their children, or going to a school associated with their neighborhood (again, there is a massive amount of variation on how different countries run their school systems).


Per the requirements of the J-1 visa, which is the legal visa used for the exchange, you need to attend school.  This is an important requirement for many reasons...it will be the main way you experience your new culture, as well as the best way to meet people your age.  It is also what is expected by all involved, and so will be one of your ambassadorial duties.

The purpose of the year abroad, however, is a cultural year, and so the exact academic requirements needed will be individualized to you (so long as you meet the minimum GPA requirements of 2.75 or above, or being ranked in the upper half of your class).   It is very important, then to make sure you plan with your guidance counselor how your year will fit into your high school journey.  You should plan on making sure you have enough credits to graduate when you get back , what types of credits your high school will accept from your year abroad (if any), and if you going for your senior or gap year, how you will handle your college application process.   

Each student's case, and each student's school are highly individualistic, so it is important for the student and family to prepare ahead of time.

The classes you take abroad, and the performance requirements for those classes, will then depend on your individual circumstance...you many need to work hard to get passing grades if your case depends on it and you need those credits for your american schooling experience.  However, there may be cases where you are in a particular class for the cultural experience.  (For example, I personally took Ancient Greek at a Gymnasium in Germany during my year abroad.   Nobody expected me to understand anything, and I didn't need to show progress in my understanding of the Greek classics.  That is fine...Rotary makes no requirements of your academics.   Rather Rotary does demand that you attend the classes to which you are assigned, and that you get as good of a cultural experience out of it as possible.   I certainly improved my German by observing how Germans learned Greek, and so that was well worth sitting in that class twice a week)

Your Sponsoring YEO (from your American Club), can help you connect with your Guidance counselor if needed, as well as find answers to other questions as they arise.

                                                          Cost Overview

Rotary's year abroad scholarship is one of the most affordable ways to study in a different country.   

Most programs typically cost more than $15,000, but with Rotary, you typically will have the following fees:

Upfront application:                                           $1000            Due in November
Visa  / Passport / Blazer, preparations            ~$  500            Typically in February - April
Rotary International sanctioned Insurance*      $1200            Typically March/April
Conference fees                                                $  300            April
International Flight                                           ~$3000            June/July
Cushion                                                           ~$  700            any time

Subtotal                                                            $6700

However, the students will receive at least $75/month stipend from their host clubs overseas, and so they will receive in total at least $750 (perhaps more depending on length of stay and their club's individual policies).

The net, then is a projected $6000 or so.    

Some students take optional Rotary tours, which can cost up to $2000 but are not required.  Any such trips would of course increase the cost.

Interestingly, Qucikenl Loans estimates that on average, an American teen needs $142 / week in food.   That comes out ot $6816 for 48 weeks.   Also, you would not need to pay auto insurance for them during that period, and so true net costs may be negative.

*Includes door to door coverage for heath insurance, converge between countries, as well as evacuation insurance, and other items not included in national policies or typical US health policies.   CSRYE contracts with an independent company to ensure an available policy that fulfills Rotary International's requirements, and works hard to get it at as low a cost possible.
Note, some countries may insist on the student paying for in-country insurance as well, and so that will be an additional cost (typically paid for by the Cushion) ... both policies will have to be purchased, since one is a legal requirement by the country, and the other is a program requirement by Rotary.  Although there is some duplication in policies, the do not completely overlap, and so both are necessary.

Application Help

Please visit the application page to get details about how to apply for the program, and the various steps involved. 

Important Dates

District Interviews:  The first main date you should keep set aside is the First Saturday of November.  This is when the District Interviews will take place

Outbound Orientation:  The second main date is the 4th Saturday of February, when you will have your Outbound Orientation.  Many details of the exchange are covered, and this meeting is mandatory

District Conference:  Typically, the first Saturday in May is the District Conference, but in 2016, it is the last weekend in April.

CSRYE Conference:The Weekend after the 4th of July is the big conference in Grand Rapids, with over 500 Exchange Students. 
Douglas Schwalm,
Sep 22, 2016, 7:44 AM
Douglas Schwalm,
Nov 11, 2015, 9:34 AM
Douglas Schwalm,
Sep 21, 2015, 7:42 AM