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YFU Blog - Recent stories about Youth for Understanding

Marya Young - Host Mom & International Alumna - Ohio


Hosted student from China

In 1979, a 14-year old girl named Marya from Iran was anxiously awaiting word of her host family in America. Prior to Marya's departure for the US, there were serious anti-American demonstrations happening in Tehran. Shortly after Marya arrived in the US, the Iran hostage crisis occurred. Because of the escalating political conflicts between Iran and America, many people had a fear of taking a student from Iran into their home.

Like many other times, area reps came forward and agreed to take Marya as a second student in their home until they found a replacement home for Marya. Marya was extremely excited because now she had the sisters she had never had in her life and felt like she was blessed with a very kind family: YFU volunteer host parents Larry and Virginia from Ohio. Things worked out so beautifully between Marya and her new host family that she soon became "permanent." Following this positive experience, Marya chose America as her permanent home, and she is a proud American citizen by choice today.

It was Marya's dream as a teenager to someday open her home to exchange students when she had her family. During the last 10 years, Marya and her husband, Jim, and their daughters, Shayda and Shaia, have hosted a number of exchange students from all over the world. They currently are having a fabulous time with their daughter Shirley from China. The wonderful part of this story is that 29 years later, Marya is still in close contact with her host family, and she now not only has sisters, but she is also an aunt. What if Marya had not been selected because we were afraid of political conflicts?

Would you like to share your YFU Story? Please submit your stories and pictures!