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News

YFU Fundraising Gala to Celebrate 57 Years of US-Japan Youth Exchange

YFUUSAblog

Featuring special guest speakers New York Times best-selling author Amanda Ripley and the Embassy of Japan’s Minister for Public Affairs Masato Otaka. Co-hosted by Hon. (Ret.) U.S. Ambassador Laurence Wohlers and COO and CFO of Global Giving Jennifer Sigler with the support of premier sponsors Sony Corporation and Kikkoman. Event designed to raise funds for nonprofit YFU to increase need-based scholarships for students to study abroad, develop new programming opportunities, and provide volunteer enrichment.

YFU Fundraising Gala to Celebrate 57 Years of US-Japan Youth Exchange

Event to honor legacy of cultural understanding and leadership realized by nearly 28,000 students since 1958 

Following the success of its inaugural gala last October, Youth For Understanding USA (YFU) will assemble guests from around the globe on Thursday, October 8 to celebrate the power of intercultural exchange. The gala features special guest speakers including New York Times best-selling author Amanda Ripley and the Embassy of Japan’s Minister for Public Affairs, Masato Otaka. Held at the YFU national headquarters in downtown Washington, DC, the event aims to raise funds to increase need-based scholarships for students to study abroad, develop new programming opportunities, and provide volunteer enrichment.

Though YFU operates exchanges with more than 70 countries, this year’s gala highlights its long-standing relationship with Japan. Nearly 28,000 high-school aged students have studied abroad between the US and Japan with YFU since 1958. “YFU has played a pivotal role in the development of cultural exchange between the United States and Japan,” said Michael E. Hill, President and CEO of YFU USA. “We are honored to welcome alumni, host families, volunteers and sponsors as we recognize not only the history of this special US-Japan relationship, but as we prepare to continue its legacy long into the future.”

Offering more worldwide scholarships than any other youth exchange organization, the US interest in programs to Japan can be attributed in part to the number of prestigious government and corporate sponsorships made available through YFU each year. “In many ways joining the Peace Corps was a natural extension of my YFU experience, something I had been chasing since I returned home from two life-altering months in Japan,” said Peace Corps volunteer and 2007 scholarship recipient Stephanie Roach in a recent alumni publication.

Co-hosted by Hon. (Ret.) U.S. Ambassador Laurence Wohlers and Global Giving COO and CFO Jennifer Sigler, both members of the YFU USA Board of Trustees, with the support of premier corporate sponsors Sony and Kikkoman, this benefit reinforces the need for YFU to develop a continuum of programs, making exchange accessible to a wider audience. This year, YFU introduced its first-ever adult study tour to Cuba and expanded short-term options. In the coming year, it will pilot customizable classroom excursions based on the needs of individual school systems.

The gala begins at 6pm on Thursday, October 8 with a welcome reception, followed by dinner and introductions by Hill, and Minister for Public Affairs for the Embassy of Japan, Masato Otaka. The 2015 Award for Education Innovation will be presented to Marci Tuzinsky, Dean of Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan, with reflections on the importance of exchange presented by New York Times best-selling author Amanda Ripley and recently returned YFU alumnus Gus Ruppert.

Calling on parents and educators to recognize exchange programs as an investment in future leaders, Hill remarked, “Exchange teaches skills that cannot be learned in any other way. Curiosity about the world expands cultural awareness and acceptance of other ways to live, which leads to broader perspective and greater understanding. YFU programs increase tolerance, reduce violence, help to eliminate stereotypes and reinforce our common humanity.”

List of Sponsors: 

  • Kikkoman Corporation
  • Sony Corporation
  • Mayer Brown
  • Altair
  • Goetz Printing
  • WTSO.Com
  • Right Proper Brewing Company