Rotary Friendship Exchange

Right Wale off Hermanus

Cape Town and Table Mountain





District 9350 – Southern Africa

August and November 2021

A Rotary Friendship Exchange visit has been organised with District 9350. The district covers the area in South Africa from the Garden Route on the southern coast round the Western Cape and Cape Town where most of the clubs (66) are located. The District extends into Namibia where there are 5 clubs and Angola where there are 3 clubs. Given the huge geographic distances it is probable that the majority part of the Exchange will be focused around the Western Cape area of Southern Africa.

The Exchange will enable us to understand the excellent work that District 9350 do both locally and internationally. The visit to South Africa has been postponed from 2020 due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The visit to South Africa will take place in November 2021 and they will come to D1070 in August 2021.

There will be an opportunity to visit Table Mountain which offers spectacular views of the surrounding coastline where the Atlantic and Indian Oceans meet, Lions Head as well as Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned for over twenty years. We will see first-hand the progress that the country has made since the end of apartheid as well as visiting the more traditional areas such as Stellenbosch, famous for its vineyards and wines.  The southernmost point of Africa the Cape of Good Hope is just to the south of Cape Town. Hermanus along the Garden route is a famous spot for watching whales from the shore in the month of November.

Ian Clarkson D1070 RFE Chairman


Previous RFE exchanges

USA (New England) – District 7850 in 2018

 A Friendship Exchange group of thirteen Rotarians and spouses from six clubs in the District travelled to New Hampshire and Vermont in the USA after a visit from District 7850 here in early summer (see details above).

The “fall” leaf season was in full swing when we arrived and the tree colours were at their peak. Temperatures during our two-week visit ranged from 30C to below freezing. The landscape also varied, from the White Mountains in the east to Lake Champlain in the west. Our hosts lived up to the famous American hospitality and we poetically presented our District at the Rotary meetings. In return they shared the charitable work that many Rotarians are doing there at home and abroad.

Here is a flavour of the delights that we experienced, many of which have Rotary connections: breakfast at a pancake house, a tour of the Vermont state house in Montpelier by a state senator and a tour of the University of Vermont (UVM) by a former state governor. This was where Paul Harris grew up and studied on which subject a past district governor gave a presentation.

We also visited a pioneering automated diary farm generating its own energy from methane gas by composting most of its waste products.

We visited the huge Mount Washington Hotel where the Bretton Woods agreement defined a post-war financial system, and also a visit to the Von Trapp Lodge (Sound of Music) where one of the family was signing books and memorabilia for visitors.

Small businesses included a hand-made furniture and pottery compound in Stowe, VT run by a descendent of Ernest Shackleton, Charlies Shackleton and his wife. Another example was a small business in Middlebury (VT) making silk bow ties and flowers by hand.

We visited the simulation lab in Dartmouth Medical Centre which uses interactive robot “patients” including “babies,” to help train medical staff.

Another Venue was the birthplace and memorial for Joseph Smith (see photo at the very top), who was initiator of the Mormon religion and forerunner to Brigham Young.

We all had a worthwhile visit and made some long-lasting friendships on the exchange.

Already the plans have taken shape for an exchange with South Africa and Namibia and Chile in the coming years. My sincere thanks go to all the hosts and the RFE team from across the district.

Rotary Friendship Exchange Visit Summer 2018

A group of twelve visitors from the USA east coast states of Vermont and New Hampshire (District 7850) visited District 1070 from mid May to early June as part of an International Rotary Friendship Exchange. The Exchange programme gives Rotarians and their families the opportunity to experience other cultures first-hand, by participating in reciprocal visits with Rotarians and their families from other countries. This programme aims to advance international understanding and provides Rotarians with the opportunity to make long lasting friendships while exploring different areas of the world. There have been exchanges between our District and New Zealand, Brazil, Australia, India, Canada and Sweden over the past ten years or so.

This particular Exchange (see photos above) involved eleven clubs across the District who worked closely together on this project. Visiting Rotarians and their partners stayed with forty six hosts during their two week exchange. Our visitors travelled as far east as the Sandringham Estate (just outside our District) and as far west as the Battle of Bosworth Field over the two weeks. In between there were visits to castles, museums, Cambridge and much more. District Governor Chis Davies took part in the local events as did the presidents of many of our clubs and Joel Weaver International team, leader of District 1070.

We were impressed with District 7850’s commitment to Rotary Foundation and interestingly their Charitable work within the USA particularly in tackling the opioid crisis in their states. In October thirteen of us from across the District visited District 7850 to experience the famous “Fall” leaf season, the local sites of Vermont and New Hampshire as well as learning much more about the work that the clubs there do to help struggling people in the USA and around the world.

Background Information on RFE:

The Rotary Friendship Exchange programme gives Rotarians and their families the opportunity to host and visit Rotarians around the world. This chance to experience other cultures and make lasting friendships may also provide opportunities for other international activities and service projects. Friendship exchanges may evolve from individual Rotarian, club or district initiatives. This article relates to district friendship exchanges.

Exchanges are arranged by District Organisers who in our district are members of the District International Committee, chaired by Joel Weaver. Districts throughout the world may signal their interest in visiting another district and their willingness to host an incoming team. Visiting teams outbound and inbound normally comprise 6 Rotarian couples or the equivalent, staying in the host district for approximately 2 weeks as the guests of 4 different clubs. Each club involved provides host families for 3 or 4 nights and prepares a varied programme of sight seeing, entertainment and cultural visits etc., sometimes with the cooperation of neighbouring clubs. Information on age, background and interests of participants is communicated in advance and every effort is made to ensure compatibility of host and guests.

District 1070 is one of the most active participants in Rotary Friendship Exchange within the UK and in recent years successful exchanges have been completed with USA, Canada, Brazil, India, Australia, Sweden and others, and we will be hosting an inbound team from Australia in June An inbound team will not necessarily comprise the same host Rotarians or the same clubs participating in the previous outbound visit, but they will be from the same district if it is a reciprocal visit.

District Rotary Friendship Exchanges are funded entirely by the participant Rotarians. Guests are responsible for their own travelling costs, personal spending and in addition should be prepared for the following possible expenses:-

  • Admission to tourist sights, entertainments, cultural events etc. in the programme prepared.
  • Overnight stays in any hotels that may be required on an itinerary prepared by the host district.
  • Modest gifts for host families.
  • Meals purchased outside hosts’ homes.
  • Transportation between clubs in the host district.

It may be that some of these expenses are borne by host families and/or their Rotary clubs. This will of course influence the planning and budgeting for a reciprocal visit when the guest district becomes the host district. As a result
Rotary Friendship Exchange organisers in many districts choose to develop a modest funding plan to cover costs associated with arranging and hosting an exchange. This is by agreement with, and the responsibility of, the participants. Such a fund is usually held in a ring-fenced account with the District Organisers’ Rotary Club. District does not fund or hold any
Rotary Friendship Exchange account.

When an exchange has been agreed in principle all clubs in the district are notified, and in District 1070 always have been, to seek host families or outbound team members as appropriate. If this results in more than 6 couples applying for a place on the outbound trip, there will be a draw for places in the team and a reserve list. Teams of more than six couples are not viable. If a Rotarian is lucky enough to win a place on an outbound team then it is a reasonable expectation that his club will provide or arrange hosting for up to six couples on an inbound visit to their area.

Being a host cannot be considered as a method of securing a place on an outbound team. In the event of an exchange being under-subscribed, which has happened on more than one occasion, it may improve chances. However it is a fact that many Rotarians in our district have hosted several times without any aspirations to be on an outbound team. Hosting visiting Rotarians and their spouses/partners and participating in the prepared programs is just as much a part of the Rotary Friendship Exchange spirit as travelling abroad as a guest. It is our hope that more clubs in our district will want to become involved in Rotary Friendship Exchange, maybe more exchanges will increase the opportunities for those who do wish to be guests abroad.

The Rotary International Exchange Handbook contains much useful information and guidelines and can be downloaded from the website . Our District Rotary Friendship Exchange website contains reports on previous exchanges.