“For a World of Understanding Through Lions Youth Exchange”

Open to all students between the ages of 16- 21

Since 1961 Lions Clubs have been sending as many students as possible around the world.  In so doing, we hope that to experience another culture will bring about a better understanding of people and lead to more peaceful relations worldwide.  Our thousands of “ambassadors of goodwill,” who do not have to come from Lions family members, are picked, not for their scholastic ability, but for their desire to learn about another culture. Exchanges are for a 3 to 5 week summer program to countries in Europe, Brazil, Spain, France, Japan and more. Check out the outgoing tab for more information.  

The Lions Youth Exchange Program was launched to provide today’s youth, our leaders of tomorrow, an opportunity to learn about people and cultures other than their own in an effort to promote world peace. Young people are given the opportunity of living with a family or families in a foreign country for a few weeks to experience first-hand a new culture, history and a different way of life. The ultimate goal is to have each participant upon returning home share his or her experiences in promoting international understanding. Lions Clubs International Youth Exchange Program was officially adopted in 1961 as a unique cultural learning opportunity for our youth and not conducted for tourism, formal education or employment.


Started in 1917, we are the largest and youngest international non-profit organization in the world. Our primary objective is eyesight conservation as implored by Helen Keller who asked us to become her “Knights of the Blind.” Since then we have expanded our endeavors to include humanitarian service to all those with all needs.





In April, 1960, a group of Lions and their wives from California made a tour of Japan. Included in the party were International Director Maurice Perstein and myself, then District Four's nominee for Director. The Lions of Japan entertained us royally. While visiting Kyoto, the Lions of that city took us out to see one of their projects a home for mentally challenged children.

I sat in the back seat of a car with one David Kaneko, M.D. He remarked that he had received his medical education in the United States and that he respected and loved our country almost as much as his own. He went on to say that the recent war between his two favorite countries was one of the great sorrows of his life and that he wanted to do something to ensure that such a catastrophe, as he called it, would never happen again. He proposed that an exchange of students between the two countries would establish international friendships and allow the students of each country to learn something of the culture and social machinery of the other. I thought it was a great idea.

We immediately communicated with the 4l-6 district governor, David Thompson, and when we arrived back in the US, he and Dr. Kaneko had already had correspondence relative to an immediate exchange of students. I was elected Director in June at the Chicago convention and the following October in Los Angeles I was privileged to present the idea to the International board. It has been an official program of the Lions Club ever since.

I want to make it very clear that the Student Exchange idea was not mine. I was only the courier who presented Dr. Kaneko's plan to the International board.  .

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