Rotary Friendship Exchange is a great way to travel. Learn about how the locals live in their land.. make lifelong friends.. Discover cultures and communities in a unique way. And of course enjoy Rotary fellowship. Often you share Rotary projects and ideas.
Do you like to travel? Enjoy meeting Rotarians from other countries? Want to get more out of touring? Want to learn more about Rotary in other regions? A RFE may be for you
Rotary International has a document that explains the program here. Each district does it a little different though, our District 5370 usually follows the below pattern.
- There is a RFE District Chair that communicates with potential districts to travel to.
- Once a district is chosen to partner with, word is distributed via the clubs seeking participants.
- Each participant funds his or her own way. Couples or singles welcome. All Rotarians are invited and their partners. (i.e. partners do not have to be Rotarians).
- Rotaractors are invited to be a part of this as well. Interactors are encouraged but handled on a case by case basis. Please ask.
- Generally a RFE lasts 2 weeks.
- Around 8 – 12 Rotarians form the team, which includes a team leader.
- The team lands at the pre-determined date in the host country. From there the team is hosted by local Rotarians.
- The RFE team is home stayed, usually changing host homes every few days. Several
communities are visited.
- The host Rotarians show their guests local sights of interest, parks, museums, things they are proud of. There are often Rotary hosted parties. Rotary projects may be toured.
- The hosts generally cover lodging and home meals. Transport, admissions or extraordinary costs such as restaurant meals are covered by the guests.
- The visit is then reversed with the foreign district visiting ours.
- RFE participants are expected to host for a few nights and participate when they visit here. (i.e. volunteer to host them for some or all of their days in the 5370 community you reside in. A typical tour may be 3 days in Edmonton area, 3 days in Grande Prairie, 3 days in Jasper and 3 days in Camrose.
- The above is reversed if it is decided the foreign district visits here first. If that’s the case those that host are given priority to be on the outgoing RFE team.
- The pace is usually brisk. Get up in the morning, maybe tour a Rotary project, then maybe see a point of interest or two. In the evening there may be a Rotary meeting or party in the teams’ honour to attend.
- Make lifelong friends
- Live “with the locals”.
- Certainly cost efficient
- Expand your Rotary knowledge
- See parts of the world you may otherwise never see.
- If you go on an exchange, you may get asked to host when their team visits us. This usually means 3 nights in your town . Or you can help in other ways – transportation, coordinating the return visit, etc. Ideally you would participate in their 3 days in your community.
- We would ask you to be active in your club and community seeking host families from your club or towns’ clubs, and being active in the planning of their days in your town when they visit. Be an RFE ambassador
You will travel with a group and your tour will be mapped out by the hosts. We often give input to preferences but generally what they plan is what we do.
- Bring club banners.
- Bring gifts for host families, maybe the local RFE chair, family members, kids you meet, etc.
- Be open and flexible. Some of the things you see may not interest you – but often they turn out the most interesting!
- Expect the unexpected. We are all volunteers coordinating between clubs that may be many miles apart.Some may be wildly organized. Some maybe less so.
- Fun and flexible is our motto!
- A few more tips here.
For more information contact the current Rotary Friendship Chair, Kevin Hilgers or call Mobile: 780-518 5672
Current RFE events
Australia – District 9650 (northern New South Wales). Canada visits Australia November 9 – 22, 2015. Australia visits Canada May 25 – June 8, 2016. FULL
Belgium – Canada visits there (District 1620), October 28, 2016 – November 12, 2016. The 100th anniversary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge will be celebrated on April 9th, 2017. This RFE will include Remembrance Day events including Flanders Fields. Belgium visits Canada Spring 2017. PARTICIPANTS TO BE DETERMINED. PLEASE ASK.
Louisiana (Not confirmed yet)
Outbound April 29 – May 3 2017
Inbound Early June 2018
Taiwan (Not confirmed yet)
Outbound Fall (October – December range) 2017
Inbound Spring 2018 – will need to revise this to 2018
Who gets priority to travel as part of the team?
If they come here to our District first – it makes sense those that offer to host/assist should get priority to then travel there as part of the team.
If a Rotarian hosts/assists with a group and can’t attend the OUTbound, they should get priority for the next RFE.
If we go to their District first, priority should be given to those who request to be a part of the team first, who certainly offer to help/assist when they come here, and then – who book flights first. Also- it’s always nice to see new attendees.
Sometimes we have too many wanting to be a part of it (India is very popular!) and decisions will have to be made. But with 2 or 3 or 4 RFE’s in the works – the goal is have as many different Rotarians be a part of it as possible. Rotarians who love to travel, love hosting/assisting when they come here, and love Rotary.
To me RFE is about making new friends, learning other cultures, and travel to new regions without worry, as you are taken care of.
Rotary club of Grande Prairie.
It’s the best way to experience a new country, culture & local Rotary projects, being hosted by Rotarians who live there!
V & RA Begalke, RFE to UK & S. Africa.
Rotary Club of Grande Prairie