Posted by Jan Bonsett-Veal - District Youth Exchange Chair
Just keeping everyone in the loop.  The chairs for Central States Rotary Youth Exchange are meeting each Thursday to discuss changing situations in the world of youth exchange.  As a group we believe that it is too soon to determine if we should end the program for the 2020-21 year.  We have also talked about delaying the start if school is not in session. 
I definitely agree with this view but want everyone to know that 4 of the 20 districts have already decided to pull out for this coming exchange year.  Some of these districts serve kids in large metropolitan areas (e.g. Detroit) where the virus has a significant hold.  I believe a critical piece will be whether or not school starts back up in September 2020.
At the end of April, 9 of 19 Inbound students have chosen to remain in the US for the remainder of their exchange.  One student is working to get a flight arranged to return to Finland.  Of our 19 outbound students, 7 are choosing to remain where they are until the end of their exchange year and 3 are making plans to return in mid to late May.  The others have already returned.
Finland and Denmark have decided not to have a program in 2020-21 as have some districts in Japan.  I imagine others will be talking about what they should do in May.  One large multi-district in the US has decided not to have a program next year.
We have completed our orientation for all the 2020-21 outbound students and as far as I know, none have dropped out at this time.  We did send those students and parents a short survey asking how parents are feeling about the situation right now.  Also, might their student consider going next year or starting late.
So.....this is my news for now.  It is unfortunate that this has happened when our Youth Exchange numbers are trending up. I hope that everyone in the District will continue to support Youth Exchange in the same way that you always have and I encourage clubs that are not involved in Youth Exchange to consider it for the 2021-22 school year.  Our District Youth Exchange committee has a lot of dedicated volunteers who are 100% willing to assist any club in getting a program up and running.  Just give us a call or send us an e-mail.