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The Rotary Youth Exchange Programme is well established and respected.

RYE is a 12 month exchange to selected countries, for students aged from 15 up to 18

The first documented exchanges date back to 1929, when the Rotary Club of Copenhagen commenced exchanges. Exchanges between clubs in California, USA, and Latin American countries began in 1939, and exchange activities spread to the eastern United States in 1958. These European exchanges continued until World War II and resumed in 1946. The reciprocal long-term (12 Month) academic exchange grew in popularity during the 1950s and became the primary type of Rotary Youth Exchange.

In 1972, the Rotary Board of Directors agreed to recommend Youth Exchange to clubs worldwide as a worthwhile international activity. Today, more than 8,000 Youth Exchange students travel abroad each year to live and study in about 80 countries making it one of the most significant exchange programmes available.

Today, Rotary exchange students can be recognized by their Rotary Youth Exchange blazer. The colour of the blazer usually depends on which country or region the exchange student is from. One fun Rotary tradition is for students to adorn their blazers with pins and patches they have traded with other students or bought in places they have visited as evidence of their exchange.

The programmes long history and popularity attest to its proven structure and administration. The success of the Rotary Exchange Programme lies in it being operated around the structure, and with the support of, individual Rotary clubs which operate within the guidelines and reporting structures of Rotary.