Pioneering Rotary Youth Exchange Initiatives


The history of Rotary Youth Exchange is a testament to the vision and commitment of Rotary clubs, setting the stage for a program that continues to transform lives and bridge cultures across the globe.
Rotary International

The Founding of Rotary Youth Exchange

Like most Rotary International programs, Rotary Youth Exchange began with two clubs. The first documented exchanges were initiated by the Rotary Club of Copenhagen in 1929 and involved only European participants. These European exchanges continued until World War II and resumed in 1946 at the end of the war. Exchanges between clubs in California and Latin American countries began in 1939, and exchange activities spread to the eastern US in 1958.
The history of Rotary Youth Exchange
The history of the Youth Exchange
Belo Horizonte, Brazil, 1968-69.

Becoming an Official Program

In 1972, the Rotary International board of directors agreed to make youth exchange an official program of Rotary International. The program is still administered by clubs, districts and multi-district groups and has grown to include more than 60 countries and more than 9,000 students each year.

Becoming an Official Program locally

Here in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin, North Star Youth Exchange started in 1967 with an exchange between a girl from Minnesota who went to Sweden and a boy from Finland that came to the Twin Cities. The program quickly grew, and today we sponsor over 100 exchanges each year in more than 30 countries.