Alumni Portal for Natural Parents
Welcoming Home Your Child
Welcome to the YFU Alumni family! Your family is now part of a network of over 50,000 Americans who have completed an exchange through YFU and 260,000 alumni worldwide.
Here are a few items for you and your child to complete upon return:
We value your perspective on the YFU experience and would like to hear from you. Please share your feedback using this online survey.
YFU students' exchanges have much in common, yet each is unique. YFU USA wants to know about your child's Study Abroad experience. Please encourage them to complete the survey, which takes about 15 minutes.
School and community presentations are a fantastic outlet for your child to share their exchange experience while showing others how going abroad can changer their lives! Remember, if your child is a scholarship recipient, they are required to do a presentation. YFU has a template created by a fellow alumna and Campus Ambassador; Misha. Please click 'File' and 'Make a Copy' to use it as a baseline for your presentation. Once your presentation is complete fill out the Presentation Form.
If your child is unsure of what to say or has a bit of stage fright, YFU will be hosting two presentation trainings in the Fall to help students prepare. Excellent communication skills are highly regarded by colleges and employers alike - so let us help you get a jump start!
Please let us know if you need anything - brochures, flyers or posters might be of help. Please give advance notice and send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your estimated quantity and presentation date.
Virtual Homecoming Orientations
We know that returning home is full of adjustments and new experiences. Returning to the USA can feel like being on a roller coaster and though your child is happy to see you and their friends, they simultaneously long for their host country. We are here to help! Encourage your child to register today for a Virtual Homecoming Orientation to talk with others who understand what you are going through, and learn about opportunities to help keep the exchange experience alive.
During this hour and a half discussion, they will:
• Share their experience with other alumni
• Integrate the experience overseas with the life they "left" back home
• Get tips on how to relate their experience to family and friends
• Learn about opportunities to get involved
• Build a support system among people who share similar experiences
Re-entry to the United States from a country abroad can be a difficult process, and everyone handles it a little differently. It will be very exciting to see your child after long months abroad, so let them know how much you missed them. Try not to be too overwhelming, though! Your child needs time to adjust and get back into their old (or new) routine.
Tips for a Healthy Re-Entry:
- Show eagerness to hear their stories! They will have so much to share as they journey back home, and as a parent, you are the perfect listener.
- Ask questions about their experience to show them that you are curious and interested to learn about the culture they lived in. It might be strange to switch roles and actually learn something from your child instead of the other way around, but it is an excellent opportunity to deepen your relationship and develop your own understanding of the world.
- Keep an open mind, for they may have changed their perspective on some ideas. Try to understand where they are coming from. You can agree or disagree with them – either is fine, as long as a mutual understanding and respect is present.
- Regarding their host family, keep in mind that they may refer to their host parents as “mom” or “dad.” Try not to take this label personally – you still have a special relationship with your child that can never be replaced.
- Provide your child with returnee resources if they are having a difficult time adjusting. There are plenty of books and blogs written on this topic. Below are some helpful starting suggestions:
An Inside Look!
The best way to take in advice is to hear it from someone who actually went through this experience. Jeanne is not only a parent to two daughters who went on an exchange trip with YFU, but an exchange alumna herself as well as a 35+ year YFU volunteer. Her advice is valuable, heart-warming, and reassuring.
"Coming home after the exchange is full of conflicted emotions. It is so hard to explain what the experience meant or how it impacted you. Most people want to hear "it was wonderful" but don't care too much about the details. And how do you explain the sense of accomplishment of doing something small like buying bread, dreaming in a foreign language, or learning to laugh at yourself when you know that everyone is staring at the American who doesn't know how to do something "right." Coming back to "real life," so to speak, is so difficult and near impossible to do. As parents, it is important to acknowledge their growth and accomplishments even though you weren't there to see it. To not expect exactly the same child you sent away. A new and improved version who is more confident. The "road" they were on may have altered, be it what they want to do after high school, or what their interests are, or even who they want to hang out with. Being accepting of who they are post exchange, being willing to listen to yet another "when I was in Sweden..." story, support them in their new interests and life goals, and understand that while they have more people to love and appreciate in their life, they don't love and appreciate you any less.
How will your child utilize their experience in the professional and educational world now that they're home? As you can imagine, an exchange program has essential non-formal educational aspects. This is important because your child has gained skills that are not readily available in a traditional high school environment.
The personal skills gained by high school exchange students can be a key factor when trying to stand out to admissions advisers and employers. These skills can fit into two categories: personal competences and intercultural competences. As your child goes through the process of applying to colleges, scholarships, internships, and/or jobs, remind them to highlight their strengths and talents that are so essential in the professional world.
- Acquisition/fluency of a foreign language
- Independence and self-confidence
- Personal responsibility and efficiency
- Greater self-esteem
- Increased ability to approach external viewpoints
- Can integrate other perspectives into their own thinking
- Increased psycho-emotional maturity
- Intercultural sensitivity
- Intercultural social contacts
- Knowledge of host country
- Openness to foreign cultures
- Decreased fear of intercultural encounters
- Reduced prejudice
- Tolerant of differences
- Open to meeting new people and foreign countries
Extending your YFU Connections
Keep the relationship with YFU going strong even after your child has returned home! There is an abundant selection of opportunities that allow you to share your child’s experience, hear about others’ experiences, and make a difference in the YFU community!
Becoming a host family, a YFU volunteer, or a financial contributor/donor are just a few great ways of giving back and expressing gratitude for the many opportunities your student has had. They also allow you to stay connected to the cultural exchange experience.
Host an International Student
Consider welcoming an international student in your home through hosting! You and your family will get the incredible opportunity to share your culture, stories, and special family traditions with a student who is eager to learn about American culture. There is a variety of program lengths so you have the chance to choose one that fits your family best!
The benefits of being a host family are many:
- Share your story, traditions, and customs while learning about others
- Experience what it’s like to have another son/daughter
- Exposure to a different culture and country
- Learn a new language
- Expose your school and community to the world
- Appreciate your own family, country and culture
Program options to choose from:
- Traditional Academic Year and Semester Students: For more than 65 years, YFU has welcomed high school students (ages 15-18) to live with a host family and attend a local high school in the U.S. Today, nearly 2,000 YFU high school students come to the U.S. each year from more than 70 countries.
- Academic Year Scholarship Winners: Each year, YFU students include scholarship winners from several US Government sponsored programs. Learn more about welcoming one of these future leaders into your home.
- Two Week Summer Programs: Experience our American Independence Day as you never have before; through the eyes of an international student experiencing US culture in person for the first time! From June 30 to July 18, 2016, students from multiple countries are placed in select US cities. Learn more about this unique opportunity now.
- Community College: Would an older student (17-23 years old) be a better fit for your family? If so, please visit our Community College hosting page to learn more and find a listing of our current Community College locations.
Experience the special moments of intercultural exchange:
After hosting a wonderful girl from Japan, three years later we decided to host another girl but from Finland this time. Four days after she arrived, our Japanese daughter returned for a two week visit. Which made for four teenage girls in the house! They laughed, and bonded, sang and played games, and shopped for four matching sister bracelets. We decided to do a family portrait with all of us, and I treasure that picture and the memories to this day.
- Jeanne (YFU Volunteer and Host Parent)
Become a YFU Volunteer
Continue supporting YFU’s mission by becoming a volunteer! Volunteering allows you to connect with other YFU friends and participate in a globally aware and diverse community.
- Become a part of an international family
- Meet and engage with like-minded people who share your interest in the broader world
- Be the vital link between students and families and the YFU network worldwide – providing a safety net of support
By volunteering with YFU, you could change the course of an individual life.
Your gift to YFU brings the world a little bit closer together by:
- Preparing students to work and lead in an interdependent, international economy
- Increasing tolerance
- Reducing violence and helping to eliminate stereotypes
- Promoting the understanding of cultural differences and underscoring a sense of common humanity
YFU needs your help to continue the mission of intercultural exchange – a mission that is vital as ever in our world today.
Get Involved with Local Schools
Schools are an essential part of the YFU experience and serve as a major venue for learning – both inside and outside the classroom. Whether one of your students is studying abroad or you're hosting an exchange student, your school benefits, too.
- Participation is a great way to introduce students to the global world, adding a broader perspective and bringing civics and social studies alive
- Exposing students to an “in-person” narrative combats stereotypes and enhances diversity
Exchange is a great way to improve foreign language skills, and is an invaluable asset in a global economy. If an entire classroom has the opportunity to bond with exchange students, it would give everyone a chance to make the world their home.
You will soon realize – if you haven’t already – that the YFU program changes your child’s view on life. They come back a new person – one who is culturally more aware, more independent and responsible, willing to take risks, and tolerant of differences. Study abroad does wonders to a student’s personal development and growth. Universities and employers increasingly look for applicants who demonstrate cultural knowledge, language proficiency, and experiences abroad.
Your student already exhibits an incredible culturally-aware skill set from their time abroad. But it doesn’t have to stop at just one foreign exchange experience! Encourage your student to look into additional programs to enhance their cultural skills. Visit our website to find more information on additional programs, including youth programs and young adult programs.
In fact, seeing the positive changes in your child’s life may peak your interest in traveling abroad as well! It is never too late to start traveling. Traveling invigorates the soul, no matter the age! Take a peek at our adult study programs to learn more about this experience of a lifetime.
- $1,000 discount on program tuition
- Available to volunteers, alumni, their children, and children of qualified host families (must have hosted or volunteered for at least 6 months prior to American student departure)
- Can be awarded in addition to a merit-based scholarship
Another great way for you and your child to stay connected to the international community is through attending A Lessons From Abroad conference. Lessons From Abroad, inc. is an organization consisting of like-minded higher education professionals who aim to assist in the re-entry process individuals experience when coming back to the US from abroad.
YFU has partnered with LFA to open all conferences to YFU Alumni across the country!
Check out our Alumni Chapter Calendar to see if there is an upcoming event near you.
Spreading the Word
YFU depends on alumni and friends to share its mission and goals with communities across the world. Whether through a formal presentation or through an informal conversation, you have the chance to share your child’s experience to with someone who could easily benefit. Teachers and community leaders are excellent people to share your experience with, as they often share your passion of for intercultural exchange and global learning. But even talking to neighborhood and community friends helps spark the growing conversation of study abroad and exchange through high school and gap year programs.
Year after year, we know the number one way people say they found out about YFU is through family and friends!
Cultural exchange opens minds and hearts. Cultural exchange transforms lives. Cultural exchange makes us citizens of one world.