The role of the counselor
The counselor is a vital contributor to the
success of a student's exchange, serving in a role that
can be challenging and fulfilling. When discussing
volunteers' level of involvement, it is important to be
completely up front about their expected
responsibilities. This article outlines the role of the
counselor and provides a list of these
Counselors for inbound and
outbound YouthExchange students serve as liaisons during
the exchange. The counselor's role is to facilitate
communication between the student and the Rotary club,
host family, and community at large. The counselor
should be genuinely interested in the welfare of the
student and the success of the exchange, and should
serve as the primary person the student can turn to for
help and comfort. Both the counselor and student should
work from the beginning to establish frank and open
lines of communication to promote the student's safety
and well-being. Counselors should work to gain students'
trust and respect so they can be in the best position to
assist and advise when necessary.
It is the responsibility of the
district and club leaders to properly train counselors
to respond to problems or concerns that may arise during
the exchange, including allegations of abuse or
Counselors are often expected
to carry out the following
- Contact the student before
arrival, and if necessary, assist with finalizing
- Make sure the student calls
home upon arrival.
- During the first week, work to
establish a good relationship to open the lines of
frank and concrete communication.
- Arrange to have copies made of
important documents to hold for safe keeping,
including the student's passport, visa, airline
ticket, and emergency contact list.
- Accompany the student to the
local school for enrollment.
- Work closely with teachers and
the school to ensure a positive transition for the
student into the community and activities.
- Establish the date and method
for payment of the monthly allowance.
- Maintain regular contact with
the student throughout the exchange.
- Send updates to the student's
parents or guardians about their child's progress.
- Remind the student of
important dates, such as host family members'
birthdays and appointments for club visits.
- Remind the club of the
student's birthday, planned club visits, and departure
and arrival dates.
- Help the student adapt to the
local culture and language.
Ask a Youth Exchange officer
How does your district track club compliance
Alan Wylie, Youth Exchange chair for District
5890 (Texas, USA), replies:
Each Rotary club has the responsibility of
following the district compliance process. It is the
district's responsibility to collect the necessary forms
to ensure club compliance and maintain files to prove
compliance to auditors. A problem recently faced by
District 5890 was that host clubs would often fail to
keep track of what had or had not been submitted,
leaving the district compliance officer constantly
working to remind them about and forward forms.
response, District 5890 recently implemented a process
on its Web site that allows Rotary clubs to access their
current compliance status along with forms that need to
be submitted to the district.
a tool used to track club compliance status, is a
spreadsheet posted on the Web site. Each host club has a
designated row with various columns listing the
requirements for compliance. To further assist clubs in
determining which forms are needed, each column also
references the associated compliance form. Once a
club has fulfilled a requirement and sent the completed
form to the district compliance officer, the host club's
cell for that requirement is changed from red to
week, the scorecard is updated and uploaded to the
district Web site. The end result allows host clubs
to have a reference as to what needs to be done,
streamlines their access to the necessary forms, and
helps them manage their compliance process without the
constant intervention of the district compliance
officer. Also, the presentation that District 5890 uses
to train host families, counselors, and volunteers is
available on the Web site
allowing host clubs to conduct their own training.
addition to tracking club compliance, the scorecard
includes extra columns to help the district meet other
challenges, including responding to meeting requests
from multidistricts or submitting completed guarantee
forms to partners abroad in a timely manner.
visit the Web site for an example of what our district
is doing to further ease host club compliance.
compliance officers in District 5890's host clubs have
been trained via an audio conference and have provided
positive feedback. You are welcome to send your
comments to email@example.com
Last year, one
Rotary club, like many clubs around the world, was
apprehensive about continuing its participation in the
Youth Exchange program. However, with a bit of
determination from club members, an understanding of the
program's importance, and an effort to look at it in a
different light, the club paved a new path. Please
consider using this story, written by Rotarin Margaret
Combs from the Rotary club of Grainsveille in
Florida, when speaking with clubs that express anxiety
about hosting an exchange
After our Rotary exchanges in 2007-08, our club was
seriously considering no longer participating. However,
the club president determined that the program was too
important to just stop, as other clubs in our city had
done. The club's board finally agreed to continue. New
cochairs were appointed, and our club moved forward with
tepid enthusiasm for the Youth Exchange program.
help from a past district governor, who was continually
encouraging the club's involvement, two students came to
us, a young girl of 15 from Spain and a young man of 17
from Croatia. First host families had been secured, and
each student was enrolled in a high school. When it was
time for the students to move to a new host family, the
club found itself without one for the young man. Our
delightful young lady from Spain moved successfully to
her next host home. My husband, the cochair of the
program, and I said, "While we think it would be best if
Borna" - the young man from Croatia - "were to go to a
home with other young people, if one cannot be found, we
would be happy to have him live with us."
my husband and I are probably not typical host parents.
While we are both Rotarians, my husband is a young 74
and retired. I am 68 and work part time as a writer. We
have grandchildren older than Borna. (In hindsight,
maybe those years and that level of experience turned
out to be a very good thing.) So, just after
Thanksgiving, we became the host parents of a now 18
is exceptional. We quickly learned that this bright
young man who had wanted to come to the United States
since he was a small child had come with many
misconceptions about life in America. What a great
surprise we all three were about to have! The first
thing we did was tell Borna that there was nothing he
couldn't tell us.
that framework of openness, we soon learned that most of
his ideas about the United States came from movies and
television. No, we don't eat most meals at a fast food
restaurant, as he had been led to believe. Now every
evening after our sit-down dinner, every dish gets
ranked on his favorites list. So far, there are about 10
favorites, with one Mexican, one Chinese, and one
Japanese in origin. Some are just good Southern
also discovered peanut butter and sweet potatoes, two of
the foods he'd never seen before. His peanut butter and
jelly sandwiches are at least 2 inches thick - mostly
peanut butter. We had forgotten what a marvelous food it
is, and also began to see sweet potatoes in a new light.
He discovered these at the Thanksgiving week Rotary club
meeting. He attends twice each month and speaks at the
other clubs in the city.
with food discoveries came the continual questions:
Which was better or which was worse? Which was right or
which was wrong? My husband and I had both forgotten
about the black-and-white thinking of a person just
discovering so many new things.
found that our role was not just to feed his body - no
small job for an athletic 18 year old. Our job was also
to feed his mind, to help him learn critical thinking
skills. With these skills, no matter what he encounters
this year, he'll be able to take the good and use it in
life while he discards those experiences that will not
serve him well.
also learned about the YouTube mentality. Young people
today get so much of their information from the Internet
and accept what they see as the absolute truth. It has
been a great joy to watch him see and read many new
things that are very different from the Internet images
that are often Photoshopped and presented in a less than
with Borna has never been boring. It has been a joy to
see him grow, see him learn, and see him experience
things that affected many of the expectations and
attitudes he brought with him to the United States.
Thanks to the Rotary Youth Exchange program, Borna is
getting a clearer view of the world. As he goes through
his life, I know that his exchange year will help shape
his views of Americans and broaden his views of people
all over the world.
it would be a terrible omission if I didn't say that
life with Borna has had a profound impact on his host
families and our club. I know that our Rotary club will
not hesitate again to be an enthusiastic participant in
Rotary Youth Exchange. I also believe Borna has taught
us a great deal about how to have those experiences with
the international students be more positive for everyone
involved. While Borna may not ever be here again, he is
leaving an indelible footprint in which other future
exchange students can walk.
Promoting the global student.
Youth Exchange staff members have
been fortunate to receive an advance copy of a book
promoting international student exchange. The New
Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition,
and Get a Truly International Education
, was written
by Maya Frost, wife of a former exchange student and
mother to three former Rotary Youth Exchange students.
The book includes a variety of recommendations for
students and highlights the many benefits of
participating in a long-term high school exchange
program. Frost names Youth Exchange the most recommended
program in the chapter titled "The Boldest Adventure: A
Year Long High School Exchange." Former Youth Exchange
Committee Chair Dennis White was interviewed by Frost
and provides perspective and advice on dealing with
more information or to search for a book promotion event
near you, visit www.newglobalstudent.com
. To learn
more or purchase the book, due out 19 May, please visit
the publisher's Web site
Every two weeks, the list of Non-Certified
districts is updated here.
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for resources regarding the H1N1 Flu.
Get your idea highlighted!
Please consider submitting information to share
with your fellow Rotarians on how you conduct your
inbound and outbound orientations or recruitment.
Upcoming Youth Exchange events
If you would like information on
your national or international conference published in
upcoming editions of this newsletter, please e-mail us
The 14th annual Japan Youth Exchange
May 23- 24, 2009
National Olympics Memorial Youth Center,
2009 Youth Exchange Officers Preconvention
2009 Summer South Central Rotary
Youth Exchange (SCRYE)
Contact: Don Peters, firstname.lastname@example.org
57th EMMA Conference in Reykjavik,
4-6 September 2009
Australian Rotary Youth Exchange Chairs
Sunshine Coast, Queensland,
Contact: Neville Woodforth,
any questions, comments, or ideas for future issues of
this newsletter to email@example.com.
|Contribute to the "Ask a Youth
Exchange officer" corner!
Questions to ponder:
"What are some tips for inbound and outbound
recruitment and orientations?"
"What is it about your orientations that is so