THE YOUTH EXCHANGE PROGRAM
Youth Exchange (YEP) is a program of Lions Clubs International and has been in existence since 1961. The
Multiple District 19 (go to explanation of MD19) program
is a cultural exchange of young people from Washington, Northern Idaho and British Columbia to other countries of the World. It is an opportunity for young men and women to be youthful international ambassadors, showing the best of the world's youth and our future.
The first object of Lions Clubs International is
"to create and foster a spirit of understanding among the peoples of the
The objects of the Youth Exchange Program respond directly to this.
To bring young people into contact with youths and adults of other countries.
To share family and community life of another culture.
To promote international understanding and goodwill throughout the world.
Under the Youth Exchange Program, youths have an opportunity to visit a foreign land and live with a family for 4 to 6 weeks. The Lions Clubs of British Columbia, Washington State and the northern part of Idaho make up one large Lions District. As a result, youths coming to MD19 can enjoy two cultures by staying with families on each side of the border.
The program is not a student exchange, but is
a cultural exchange.
The only requirements are:
That the youth be at least 16 years of age (17 for travel to Europe and South America, 18 for France) and not older than 21 at the time of the exchange.
The youth's travel must be sponsored by a Lions club from their home area.
They must pay for the travel package.
The youths who come to the U.S. and Canada learn about our culture and we learn something of their language and customs.
Youths usually stay with several host families in the country they have chosen to visit. Most youths return home with a heightened level of tolerance and respect for the ways and customs of others. The youths are usually met at airports by Lions members or by their host families, however, for travel to European and South American countries, youths sometimes have to find their own way to connecting flights. For this reason, we require they be at least 17 years of age.
Our most frequent exchanges are with Australia, New Zealand,
Peru, Japan, Finland, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Norway, Denmark, Italy and
In July and August, our youths are traveling and we receive youths from European countries and Japan. The Australian, New Zealand and Peruvian youths come here in December and stay well into January.
Here are some relevant rules and policies:
Youths do not have to be students.
Age limitations for all countries except Europe - must have reached 16 by the time the exchange takes place, and must not have reached 22.
For Europe and South America, must be 17 by the time the exchange occurs, and have
not reached age 22. For France - must be 18 and have a good knowledge of the French language.
For hosting, there must be at least one responsible person in the home most of the time. It is also mandatory that the youth have private sleeping arrangements.
allergies, we need to know if there is a smoker, or if there are pets in the home. Additionally, we need to know if a youth traveling suffers from allergies so that the coordinator in the foreign land can select the host families carefully. The usual hosting period is
three weeks with a common exchange day selected so that most are traveling the same day. When there are sufficient host families, we provide a hosting on each side of the border.