July 30, 2019, by Isabel Rodriguez, Published in Rotary International

Friendship Exchange is an international exchange program for Rotary members and friends that allows participants to take turns hosting one another in their homes and clubs. Participants may travel as individuals, couples, families, or groups, and may be Rotary members or not.

I led our District 4130’s Rotary Friendship Exchange program earlier this year in February where we welcomed our Rotary friends from six Rotary clubs from District 7080, Ontario, Canada and District 3461, Taiwan to Mexico. During their exchange they visited various cities in our district, learning about our culture, service projects, forging lasting friendships and building the foundations of peace and service.

We started in Santiago with breakfast at a local restaurant, a visit to the parish, a tram ride with a guide, and tasting of tamales, visiting museums, and concluded with some beautiful regional dances.

We also took our visitors to see our ongoing service projects and others that were being planned, many of which our visitors pledged to support.

In Nuevo León, we joined the Rotary Club of San Nicolás de los Garza’s meeting, where the clubs from Canada presented on their work. We then visited the beautiful city of Guanajuato for three days and our visitors were hosted by Rotary families from the Rotary Club of Guanajuato. They also met with Youth Exchange students, and attended a club meeting where the Rotarians from Canada and Taiwan shared the work of each of their clubs and presented on the different Global Grants they had worked on.

We concluded the exchange visiting the beautiful Mexico City for two days where our visitors were hosted by three Rotary families. They had meals at the homes of local Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Ecatepec A.C. who also showed them local attractions and hosted a lunch meeting in which they talked about their projects and exchanged banners and gifts.

Our visitors left Mexico inspired to continue to build friendships and partnerships in service. They share their experience below:

  • “This was cultural and friendship trip, matched with Rotarian spirit connecting people via sincere friendship and service. We became a big global family and hope to host our new friends in Taiwan soon.” – Philip & Sophia, Charter President of the Rotary Club of Taichung Light-Up, Taiwan
  • “An exceptional week of friendship and memories.” –Joanne and Vince, Rotary Club of Guelph, Canada
  • “What a memorable trip and friendship. Memories I will always cherish.”– Dorothy, Rotary Club of Burlington Lakeshore, Canada

Friendship exchanges are a great way to broaden international understanding, explore a profession or job in a different context, build enduring friendships, establish a foundation for peace and service, gain opportunities for active project involvement and support, learn about a region’s people, food, languages, customs, and history, and find partners for projects and grants. Explore the Exchange Finder Map to view current exchange locations and the districts that serve them. Connect with the district’s Rotary Friendship Exchange chair for help finding potential international hosts and planning your itinerary.

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