As the pandemic subsides, the Rotary Friendship Exchange program is closer to being reactivated. As an RFE needs a minimum 6 months planning, we are now looking at 2023 for our next RFE events. Mean time, it's always nice to dream and plan. Contact details remain the same, below, for more information.



Rotary Friendship Exchange is when a group of Rotarians from one Rotary district in the world travel to another for fun and fellowship. It’s a wonderful way to travel, but it’s not like a regular holiday, it’s an experience. You’ll learn about how the locals live, make lifelong friends and discover new cultures and communities. Often you share Rotary projects and ideas. Exchanges are usually reciprocal.



Experience different cultures and build international friendships through – Rotary Friendship Exchange

How does it work?

Rotary International has documents that explain the program, although each district does it a little different, District 5020 follows the below pattern.

  • A RFE District Chair communicates with potential Districts to travel to in communications with the District RFE Committee.
  • Once a district is chosen to partner with, the word is distributed.
  • Each participant funds their way. Couples or singles are welcome. All Rotarians are invited and their partners. (I.e., partners do not have to be Rotarians friends of
  • Rotary may also apply through their local Club).
  • Youth can also be a part of RFE and will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please ask.
  • Generally, an RFE lasts about two weeks. Some Districts ask for shorter periods.
  • Around 8 – 12 form the team, which includes a team leader.
  • The team lands at the pre-determined date in the host country. From there, the team is hosted by local Rotarians.
  • The RFE team is home stayed, usually changing host homes every few days. Several communities are visited.
  • The host Rotarians show their guests local sights of interest, parks, museums, things they are proud of. There are often Rotary-hosted parties. Rotary projects may be toured.
  • The hosts generally cover lodging and home meals. Transportation within the district is provided by the hosts, but admissions or extraordinary costs such as restaurant meals are covered by the guests.
  • The visit is then reversed with the foreign district visiting our district.
  • RFE participants are expected to host for a few nights and participate when they visit here. (I.e. volunteer to host them for some or all of their days in the 5020 community you reside. A typical tour might be three days in Nanaimo, three days in Sooke, three days in Poulsbo, three days in Olympia.
  • The pace is usually brisk. Get up in the morning, maybe tour a Rotary project, and then perhaps see a point of interest or two. There may be a Rotary meeting or party in the teams’ honor to attend in the evening.
  • The visiting team is asked to provide a short presentation at the Hosts’ Rotary meetings.
    You will travel with a group, and the hosts will map out your tour. We often give input to preferences but generally, what they plan is what we do.


  • Make lifelong friends.
  • Live “with the locals.”
  • Certainly cost-efficient.
  • Expand your Rotary knowledge.
  • See parts of the world you may otherwise never see.
  • Develop future partnerships.


  • If you go on an exchange, you will be expected to host when their team visits us. This usually means three nights in your town of 8 – 12 people. So it would help if you had your club to support you and help with the hosting.
  • You can help in other ways – transportation, coordinating the return visit, etc. You will participate in their three days in your community.
  • You will need the support of your club. Ask them. This should be done BEFORE you apply. We would ask you to be active in your club and community, seeking host families from your club or towns’ clubs and being involved in planning their days in your town when they visit. Be an RFE ambassador.
  • While on an outbound RFE, the experience is unlike a “holiday,” whereas you are hosted, and you usually are not “asked” if you wish to attend events, you are told.
  • You will be expected to participate fully, as you would when guests visit YOUR town and you map out events for them.
  • Each team member books their own flights, but please note there will be specific deadlines for booking, so we know everyone is committed. You will be asked to provide a copy of your flight to the Chair or team lead. Those not booking flights by the prescribed date may be asked to step aside so others can commit and participate in the experience.


The Rotary Friendship Exchange to Australia that we participated in was probably my best Rotary experience in all my years in Rotary. We were warmly hosted by a group of wonderful Australian Rotarians with whom we have remained in close contact. The opportunity to host them and showcase our club’s projects was a very proud moment.
Graham and Vicki Calder

Rotary Club of Nanaimo Daybreak, (Australia District 9650)

My experience on an RFE was amazing from the get go. Travelling solo, I (in Comox Valley) was paired with another Rotarian from Oak Bay. Her name is Anne. She has now become a ’sister friend’. We had so much fun together in Thailand. We knew nothing about each other before meeting in Thailand at 2:00 AM when I arrived, knocked on our hotel room door, and said, “I’m home.” She got up and hugged me and we have been laughing ever since. The Thai experience is probably quite different from other RFE in that we were housed in very nice hotels throughout northern Thailand. Our hosts were exceptional in organizing extraordinary experiences, filling the schedule, and making sure we were well fed and happy. We have made some awesome friends in Asia. Further to that, several of our group of twelve have stayed in touch and have even gotten together several times either in Port Angeles or Victoria since our trip in 2017. My RFE experience has been fulfilling on many levels.
Janice Hayward

Comox Valley - Strathcona Sunrise Rotary Club, (Thailand)

Staying in Rotarian homes was a great experience and what wonderful people. We also experienced giving the polio vaccine to the little babies in hospital in Coimbator. All in all a great trip. An added bonus was meeting wonderful Rotarians from across the line in Washington State, now lifelong friends.
Anna Berry

Rotary Club of Port Alberni, (India)

Rotary Friendship Exchange is an extremely powerful experience. We were able to see, do and experience things that we would never in a million years be able to do on a “regular” holiday.. An amazing journey
Mary and Lang Hadley

Rotary Club of Sequim, (Northern England)

A Rotary Friendship Exchange creates lifelong friendships. We still communicate to this day, especially at Christmas. And you get to see things and meet people that would otherwise not be possible. We loved every minute of it.
Steve and Judy Henderson

Rotary Clubs of Olympia and West Olympia, (Summerset, England, & New Mexico)

he RFE was a unique travel experience that immersed us in the culture of the host district like few travel experiences could. We were treated to the home lives of 3 gracious host families. They shared their home tables, foods and traditions with us and even shared come cooking techniques and recipes. We came away with memories, pictures, music and and expanded appreciation of what in means to be a Rotarian. During the 12 days we spent in Kerala and Tamil Nadu India, the members of more than 9 clubs shared their Rotary stories, their favorite projects, their Rotaract and youth programs and showed us a marvelous friendship between clubs.
Kathy Maher

Rotary Club of Bainbridge Island, (India)

I have traveled a fair amount around the world and what made this experience different is that I got to meet lots of really interesting people who took great effort to treat us like royalty and to share what they love about their country and the place they live. That we have shared values and that they put so much effort into showing us those interesting things made this trip one of the nicest I have ever been on. A couple of years out, I’m still corresponding with some of those people. It’s really about the people and the lasting friendships.
John Barrett

East Jefferson Rotary, (Australia)


 Hilgers, Kevin Dale
Friendship Exchange Chair
District 5020




Experience different cultures and build international friendships through - Rotary Friendship Exchange How does it work? Rotary International has documents that explain the program, although each district does it a little different, District 5020 follows the below...

Read More


Help us change lives locally and around the world....

Get Involved... JOIN US!
Share This