three youth participants smiling happily

Foire aux questions

My family cannot host a youth, can I participate?

Due to the reciprocal nature of the program, the chances of being accepted increases greatly when either the youth’s family can host, or they can find someone within their community willing to host on their behalf (an alternate host).
That said, youth are still encouraged to apply, even if their family can’t host. Staff can help brainstorm ways to find potential hosts, and work on recruitment of alternate hosts. Some families are able to host two youth, which allows the program to accept youth whose families cannot host. As well, many families who initially believed they weren’t able to host realize their living situation may permit it after having a conversation with staff and learning more about the program. Finally, the requirements for hosting are structured in a way that can include diverse definitions of host or family. Find more information here.

What if I don't speak French/English?

It’s helpful to have at least basic skills in the second official language, but willingness to learn is the biggest factor. Since immersion in a second official language is an integral part of the program, participants find that their skills improve greatly over the exchange period.

Can I pick where I go?

With over 600 participants per year, twinning communities is done on a national level and the program cannot accommodate requests for specific locations.
However, wherever you end up will have the same program structure for types of activities, frequency of programming and training of staff. You are guaranteed to be in community where the primary language is your second official language.

Can I choose my job?

During the interview, staff spend time talking with applicants about their job preferences and needs. These are taken into account when placing youth in jobs, but youth are not able to choose the specific job they want. Staff make every effort to place youth in jobs that align with their interests and skills, and always honour disability-related accommodations for employment. Learn more about employment in our program here.

I want to participate but I have a disability. Is this program is still a possibility for me?

Yes! Each summer there are many youth with disabilities who participate in the program. We are able to accommodate many different needs often related to (but not exclusively) mobility, mental health, communication and executive planning. With the consent of all involved, we share relevant information between youth, hosts and employers to ensure that we can provide the support needed to help each youth participate fully.

Do I need to be a Canadian citizen to participate?

No, you don’t. There are many participants who reside in Canada but are not citizens, including landed immigrants, permanent residents and refugees. Due to the employment component of the program, you do need to have a Social Insurance Number.

What happens if there is an emergency?

There are program staff on call 24/7 to respond to emergencies and support youth and families. All communities are located in proximity to medical facilities, and coordinators receive training on how to appropriately respond to emergency situations.

How much will I be paid at my job?

You will be paid at the minimum wage of the province where you are employed

How old do I have to be to participate?

You must be 16- or 17-years-old on the first day of the exchange.

I want to participate but I cannot afford the participation fee. What do I do?

Talk to the staff! Accommodations can be made for youth who are unable to pay the participant fee, including payment instalments, payment following the program and waiving the participation fee.

My family does not speak English/French at home, can I still participate?

It depends, but often yes. We require that someone in the host home has basic English to allow for effective communication with the hosted youth. There have been many host families who don’t communicate primarily in English with each other. During participant and family interviews, local staff are able to approach this individually with each family in mind.

What are SWSE's selection criteria?

The biggest factors are willingness to learn, being open to new ideas and experiences, and excitement around learning your second official language!