If you would like to get the most out of your exchange experience, here are some tips to help you create a great program:
- Know your objectives. Your exchange application should meet the objectives of YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada. Include learning, communication, and engagement activities, before, during, and after the actual exchange. Whatever your objectives, clearly define them so we can match you with the appropriate group.
- Choose the participants. You may be organizing an exchange that includes an entire class or a group such as a club, sports team, or association. If you are forming a group to go on an exchange, we encourage you to include youth from a variety of backgrounds.
- Choose the group you’d like to twin with. If you want to be twinned with a specific group, include their contact information in the application and we will try to do our best to meet your request. We can also help you find a group that shares your objectives and interests. Requests for a specific twinning will be considered within provincial targets and budget availability once the eligibility of each group has been determined.
- Plan ahead. Exchanges usually last at least five days, excluding travel time. It is essential to plan the activities before, during, and after the exchange. A joint project that you can work on with the organizer of the other group before, during, and after the exchange can be helpful.
- Get involved. Successful exchanges involve the youth participants in all aspects of the exchange, including planning and fundraising. The experience, developing communication, planning and leadership skills will be a great benefit.
- Get engaged. All YMCA youth exchanges include an opportunity for youth to become actively engaged in the community. Examples might include a service or community educational awareness project.
- Start fundraising. The Government of Canada, through YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada, pays for the travel costs of all eligible participants and organizers. However, you will need to raise funds to cover the cost of activities in the host community, local transportation costs, as well as group membership fees if needed. A fundraising event is an excellent way for participants to learn to cooperate with others and to involve members of the local community.
- Develop ongoing interaction. Once the twinned groups have hosted each other, the organizers should encourage continued interaction between the groups. Both organizers and participants must evaluate their experience. These results will help assess the effect of YMCA Youth Exchanges Canada and better serve other young Canadians.
Remember: A successful exchange is carefully planned! It is an exciting experience for the group that involves full participation by youth, their parents, and the organizers.