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International Exchange Programs Alumni Chapters

YFU study abroad programs are more than intercultural exchange, it's a life changing opportunity. Discover more from our alumni.

YFU USA is building a network of local chapters led by volunteer alumni chairs throughout the country. These chapters create opportunities for alumni to gather together and offer a chance for reconnecting, professional networking, personal growth, and, of course, giving back to YFU. 

BAY AREA CHICAGO HOUSTON SE MICHIGAN NEW YORK PUGET SOUND WASHINGTON DC

Casey Wright is a YFU Alumnus who studied abroad in Sicily in the Summer of 2000. Born in Seoul, South Korea and raised in a small town in Northern California, Casey had gained a great appreciation for cultural diversity and acceptance at a very young age. He later moved to the Bay Area to attend San Francisco State University where he earned a degree in Corporate Finance and International Business. With more than 10 years of experience in the financial service industry he is currently employed by First Republic Bank as an ACH operation analyst. As a self-proclaimed food enthusiast he feels that the best way to demystify cultural barriers is through food.

Samantha (Sam) Richardson is excited to be the Chapter Chair for the Chicago Area Chapter. Sam went on a YFU exchange to Spain in the summer of 1997. It was an experience that forever changed her and has instilled in her a love of travel. In her spare time she continues to seek adventure and enjoys planning trips to various destinations around the world. When not planning her next adventure, you can find Sam practicing yoga or running along the lake. Sam received her undergraduate degree from University of Maryland and a master's from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She currently works at the University of Chicago in their Urban Education Institute as an educational consultant. Sam feels the Chair position is a wonderful opportunity to give back to an organization that gave so much to her when she was a teenager, and has helped shape her into the woman she is today. She looks forward to meeting other alumni, learning about their experiences living abroad, and continuing to encourage other teenagers and young adults to go out and see the world.

Liane Soukup says howdy to all, and especially the Greater Houston YFU alumni!  Liane went to Sweden and Denmark in 1992 with a special summer program called YFU Sports Exchange and played tennis.  Even though she had traveled internationally prior, this experience traveling without her family and staying with host families significantly impacted her. Upon her return, she started an international club at her high school, which is still in existence today, and decided her college studies would include Corporate Communications and Public Affairs along with Cultural Anthropology.  While still in High School and College, Liane volunteered with YFU at homecomings, retreats and also interviewed candidates.  While in college, she studied and traveled extensively, incorporating England, Australia and Southeast Asia.  After college, she lived and worked in New Zealand and the Czech Republic before coming back to the US to get her M.Ed. in Higher Education. Since graduation, she has worked in Marketing and Sales in the Educational and Travel Management sectors as well as managing a scholarship for international students coming to the US for higher education. Liane recently married and is enjoying this special time with her new husband.  She enjoys volunteering, arts of all kinds, travel and cupcakes. Oh and she was born in Michigan but grew up in Houston….so she knows the city well!

Karen Saito traveled to Japan with YFU the summer of 1987.  Thus began her journey between the US and Japan for the rest of her life. Karen attended Kalamazoo College and spent her junior year living with a host family and studying Japanese at Waseda University in Tokyo. Her love of Japan lead to her back after college where she worked for three years and met her husband, Hiroshi.  Together they lived in Texas and Ohio, then finally settled in Ann Arbor with their 3 children.  For the past five years, Karen has been an active YFU volunteer. Her family has hosted 3 YFU exchange students from Denmark, Mali and Pakistan.  Karen has also been an area representative for eight students.  She works at the University of Michigan as a Senior IT Project Manager at the College of Engineering and spends her free time volunteering with YFU helping with orientations, taking students on tours of the UM Big House, attending her children’s soccer games, and taking their new puppy outside to play.  

Karen looks forward to meeting other Southeast Michigan YFU Alumni and spending time sharing stories! 

It was 1987 for Jim Meskauskas. Aside from a road trip at the age of 8, I’d never been outside of the United States. I’d never been on an airplane. I lived in the deep East Bay of northern California my whole life. I’d been in Catholic school for ten years. I had a small group of friends, and a huge family consisting of 4 sisters, 16 aunts and uncles, 21 first cousins. When my father came home from work on day and asked if I’d be interested in applying for a scholarship for an exchange student program that would send me overseas, I wasn’t sure how serious he was. “You’re studying French in school, aren’t you?,” he said. “Might as well.” So I applied. When asked to list three preferences for a possible host country, I listed nations where French was spoken, and I listed them in alphabetical order, rather than order of preference: Belgium, France, and Switzerland. Guess what? I got my first choice. It was the best misunderstanding of my life.  Looking at the world from another part of it led me to wanting to look at everything from an alternative station. I ended up at studying literature and philosophy UC Berkeley, doing jobs as disparate as working as an unskilled manual laborer in refineries in El Paso to being a line cook in a food court to starting a career in advertising, moving to NYC, starting three ad agencies, traveling to South America twice, and even studying literature and history at University of Oxford in my forties. All in the pursuit of seeing our world and the lives in it from an alternative perspective, a desire that may have burned dimly inside of me in 1987, but that was set aflame by my experience with YFU. Oh, and I’m married, have three cats, and cook excellent Thai food…

Hello everyone - I’m Nicole from Seattle.

My YFU experience was an unforgettable exchange to Japan during the summer of 2000. As soon as I got back, I began plotting my next world adventures and have been a student of travel and languages ever since! My exchange inspired me to complete a degree in International Studies at UW, after which I went to work for a local international corporation. In my free time, I like to make the most of the outdoors in the Pacific Northwest (all seasons!), enjoy all the local international cuisine and also volunteer with international students currently on exchange in our area. 

I’m really looking forward to connecting with other local YFU alumni to share our experiences and learn from one another!

Elizabeth (Beth) Lomas grew up in Michigan, the fifth child in a family of nine children. In high school she met YFU exchange students in her classes and decided to study abroad to have an international experience and to learn to speak another language. Beth lived with a French family in the Pyrenees for a year. After returning to the U.S. and completing her undergraduate studies in electrical engineering she moved to Maryland where she still lives just outside of Annapolis. Besides keeping up with her French, Beth swims with a Masters swim team, plays bridge, cooks, and spends time with friends and family walking, bike riding, and traveling. In 2014 Beth decided to start volunteering with YFU. She is an Area Rep, organized the 2016 Washington DC area study abroad interview day and has supported international student orientations.


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