The official application process for students interested in participating in the program next year will being the first week of school when preliminary applications are given out. Students who complete the applications are then interviewed by a local committee of Rotary members and former exchange students. The local interview team recommends a select group of students to proceed to the district interviews in November. Students find out in December if they have been chosen.
Geertgens said there is always a need for “good” host families. Without host families the program shrinks or has to be abandoned, he said.
According to the district 7170 website, “the best host families are really just normal families and they don’t fall into any one, easy-to-define category.”
The site says Rotary differs from many international exchange programs in that students generally live with two or more families during their exchange year. There is less of a commitment for host families because the typical length of stay is about three to four months instead of a full year. Families do not need to be affiliated with Rotary to host exchange students. For more information about becoming a host family, visit http://rotary-youth-exchange.com/host_families.php or contact Geertgens at Onthego54@aol.com.
* Editors note: The two girls interviewed for this article will be among local exchange students who have agreed to write monthly columns for the Crier. The columns will start appearing soon. If there are any other students who want to share their experiences with the community, contact Michelle Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org.