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Since it was conceived in 1958, Rotary Youth Exchange, or as it was once known, Rotary Student Exchange has become one of Rotary’s most respected and valuable programs. The Rotary Club of Copenhagen, Denmark initiated the first exchange in 1927. Rotary Youth Exchanges (RYE) began in Europe and have spread world-wide.
These were for a period of about two weeks and occurred during school holidays. Then in 1929 the Rotary Club of Nice, France, arranged similar exchanges. These were the forerunner of the different types of short-term exchanges for young people that now run successfully between many countries.
The most respected of all student exchange programs is the present long term Rotary Youth Exchange.
This had its origin at an international assembly of Rotary Governors, held at Lake Placid in the USA in 1958. Harley Shaver, a past Governor from Nebraska asked many of those present to go home and consider this new idea of student exchange. This proposed exchange would enable students to spend a year in a different country, in a different culture whilst going to school. Joe Bradbury, an incoming Governor from District 280, Australia, accepted the challenge of an exchange between his district and the district in Nebraska, currently District 5450. That was the beginning.
Now, each year, over 8,000 high school students participate in the Rotary Youth Exchange program worldwide, learning a new language and experiencing a new culture, through the efforts of Rotary volunteers around the globe.
The program’s primary mission: “To work towards peace and understanding in the world.”
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