Short-term Frequently Asked Questions

Get answers to your questions about short-term exchange

If you have questions about long-term Rotary Exchange and ESSEX, this FAQ is a great place to start! Here are answers to some of the questions we receive most often from future outbound exchange students and their families.

1. What is ESSEX?

Every district in Rotary is encouraged to arrange and participate in student exchanges. In 1966, to facilitate the smoother functioning of the program, a number of districts in New England and the Mid-Atlantic States combined into a consortium called ESSEX (Eastern States Student Exchange).

Today, ESSEX has grown to include 32 Rotary districts, spanning from the province of Quebec, Canada, through all of the New England States, most of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, all of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, parts of West Virginia, northeastern North Carolina, a small section of northeast Tennessee and Georgia, and all of Bermuda. In New York, Long Island and the lower section of Hudson Valley are ESSEX members.

If you live in the above areas and want more information about ESSEX’s student exchange programs, please complete the form or call 1-888-ROTARY-X (1-888-768-2799) and leave your name, address and telephone number. A local Rotary representative will contact you.

2. Who is eligible for the short-term exchange program?

High school students of good character, warm personality and average to above-average academic performance. Candidates should be adaptable and flexible, well mannered, and want to learn about other countries and cultures. Students must be 15 and cannot be older than 18.5 on August 1 of the year of departure. Non-Rotarians and children of Rotarians are encouraged to apply.

3. How do I start the process to become a short-term Rotary Exchange student?

Candidates must be sponsored by a local Rotary club. Contact any member of the club regarding details and application information. 

Find the Rotary club near you.

4. Does my family have to host a student?

Yes. The Short-term Exchange program is a one-to-one exchange. Your family will host the student whose family you lived while abroad as part of the program.

5. Is proficiency in a foreign language needed?

No! The program is cultural in nature but is also for a short period of time. Most students do not find language to be a barrier to having a great exchange experience although some basics would be part of the program.

6. How do I apply?

Learn about the application process here.


7. Why are Rotary’s student exchange programs better than other programs?

Rotary Exchange is run by volunteers. It is organized and administered by volunteer Rotarians and their families throughout the world within the local Rotary club, the district, and regionally. Rotary volunteers screen student applicants, select exchange students, prepare them, and arrange hosting abroad, travel, insurance, school admission, visas, etc. All of this is done by Rotarians as an unpaid service.

Students often attend Rotary club meetings and get to know Rotarians who are generally the local business and professional leaders of that community. Sometimes these connections benefit students later in life in their academic, business or professional lives.

Because the Rotary exchange program is run by volunteers and students stay with a host family, the program is significantly less than competitive programs. It is also one of the safest programs for teens.

8. What does Rotary do to keep me safe?

ESSEX and Rotary closely monitor what is happening in the regions of the countries in which it exchanges. All host families must go through an extensive background check process to ensure safety. Rotarians who serve as counselors also must participate in the background check process. Rotary also complies with U.S. State Department regulations for exchange.

Become a Host Family

Find Out More

Learn more about the Rotary
short-term exchange program.

I want to apply to STEP

How to Apply

Find out how to apply to become a short-term exchange student.

Essex Student on Exchange

Explore Countries

See which countries you can visit on the short-term exchange.