Rye and Thyme Restaurant
Leominsteer, MA  01453
United States of America

Paul Avella will give our club a talk on the Rotary Friendship Exchange.       

We all know that Rotary International is a preeminent world-wide organization with myriad opportunities for service and fellowship in a plethora of environments.  One way to take advantage of these various opportunities I’d like to highlight in this column is the Rotary Friendship Exchange (RFE) Program


Recently, our District 7910 became involved with the RFE program.  RFE 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.


We already have an opportunity for two possible exchanges in the next couple of years.  The Rotary Club of Helsingborg, Sweden has approached about visiting our district in the Spring of 2020 with members from our district visiting Sweden in fall of 2020.


Our second opportunity is literally ‘around the world.’ The Rotary Club of Benalla., Victoria, Australia has made initial contact with us for exchanges in 2020/21, Their preference time period for visiting districts are February to early May and September to early November. They usually avoid the period May to August due to winter (emphasis added) weather and the holidays late November to January.


Most of you are familiar with our Bandey – Hefler exchange with our British friends.  Side note: our district members will travel to the UK, 19 September -1 October this year.  The similarities between RFE and BH are many with visitors spending 12 to 14 days moving through the District, staying at three to four clubs during their stay.


While I’ve highlighted some of the similarities between the BH and RFE programs, there are some significant differences.  Perhaps the most important one to many is the cost.  The RFE program does not operate the way the BH program does with host families.  More of the cost of the exchange is borne by the traveler.  From the RFE web site: “All exchanges are paid for by the participants or their districts. Hosts are not expected to assume a significant financial burden. Club or district funds may be available to offset the costs of exchanges that have a vocational emphasis.” 


Also, unlike BH’s primary goal of fellowship, “Friendship exchanges are organized around at least one of three themes: culture, service, and vocation.”


Check out the Rotary Friendship Exchange (RFE) Program and the District 7910 RFE pages. Please note that our district web page is in beta testing currently and that it is not up to date.  However, my contact information is accurate.  Please contact him with thoughts on improving the web page and also your interest in the Sweden and/or Australia exchanges, or any others that you would like to explore.


Your input on how we can make our district’s RFE as meaningful, productive, and fun as possible is valued, appreciated and sought.  I can be reached at avellap@comcast.net


I hyperlinked the RI RFE and District 7910’ URLs.  If they get lost in transmission here are the actual URLs.

RFE URL:  https://www.rotary.org/en/our-programs/friendship-exchange

District 7910 RFE URL: https://rotary7910.org/page/friendship-exchange-home-page