|The purpose of the Lions Club International Youth Exchange program in MD5M is to provide a cultural experience in which a youth:|
The Youth Exchange Program is not work-related. Youth involved are not allowed to work, for money or otherwise. The program is also not to be a sightseeing tour. Often the host family uses the occasion to travel to an area of interest for the family.
MD5M's Youth Exchange Program offers two programs during the year: a Winter program and a Summer program. For the Winter program, MD5M offers the hosting of incoming youth program. The youth arrive between the second week in December and the second week in January, depending on the country from which they are coming. For the Summer program, MD5M offers the hosting of incoming youth experience as well as the sponsoring of outgoing youth program.
The incoming youth arrive from mid-June to mid-July depending on the country from which they are coming, and also depending on their school schedules. Generally, the summer exchange lasts from four to six weeks. The incoming youth are required to spend the last full week of July at a Lions International Youth Camp. MD5M offers three camps: Camp Spicer in the southern part of Minnesota, Camp Trowbridge in northern Minnesota and a camp in Canada.
MD5M also offers an outgoing exchange during the summer months. The youth from MD5M who are chosen to go on an exchange may choose the country they wish to visit and the length of time to visit. The usual length of time is 4 to 8 weeks depending on the country and the International Youth Camp chosen.
The Lions Youth Exchange Program reaches out to all interested youths, ages 16 19. In either program, incoming or outgoing, the youth must express an interest in the country they wish to visit and a willingness to represent their own community and country with dignity, cordiality and intelligence. In short, they will be 'Ambassadors of Good Will". Good citizenship is a requirement
The local Lions Club will sponsor the student(s) chosen by the club to represent them on an exchange. The local club may contribute financial assistance toward the trip; however, this is not a requirement. lt is recommended that the youth/family provide the greater share of the cost of the trip in order to better appreciate the opportunity to travel. Lions/Lioness Clubs are encouraged to provide the youth with club pins or banners for presentation to the clubs which they may visit while abroad. Shortly after the youth returns home, the sponsoring club should invite the youth to give a presentation on the exchange experience.
The Lions Club plays an integral part in the selection of the host families. Youth should be hosted in a friendly, compatible atmosphere which is clean and provides some privacy. The home should be that of a typical family (if one exists). Before a family agrees to be a host family, all members of the family (father, mother, and children in the home) must be in agreement about the hosting experience. All must be in agreement that the small sacrifices each may need to make will be greatly outweighed by the rewards to be gained.
The youth will arrive with their own spending money and own insurance. The youth should pay for all phone calls (which should be limited), postage and their own personal shopping. Other expenses, such as admission fees and dinner out costs for example, are at the discretion of each individual family.
Members should invite the youth to their homes for dinner or take the youth shopping or to ball games or other activities that may be of local interest. All of these activities need to be done in coordination with the host family to avoid conflict or misunderstanding. The youth should not be expected to be entertained at all times. Free time should be available for the youth to write letters, to read, or to simply relax.
Remember: The success of the exchange program is directly related to the involvement of the local club.