A note from YFU USA President & CEO Michael HillDear Friends, I’m thrilled to be writing you as we enter the 15th annual International Education Week (IEW). Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State and the Department of Education, IEW provides an opportunity to celebrate the benefits of international education and exchange worldwide.
Students who participate in exchanges increase their communication skills, grow in self-confidence, expand their foreign language proficiency, and foster greater tolerance and international awareness. Here at YFU, we continue to support people of all ages to take advantage of these life-changing opportunities that not only open minds and hearts, but also help to make us citizens of one world.
At YFU, we see these stories come to life every year. Take a look at YFU YES student Abasse from Senegal who celebrated IEW last year by sharing information about his home country with a class of 70 elementary students. Word is the students were so curious and full of questions that they had to limit them to one per student! He even came back and made a traditional African dish for a 2nd grade food and nutrition class.
Then, there’s Farjana from Bangladesh, who during her exchange not only made regular classroom presentations to share her culture but also taught her friends how to write their names in her native bangla and prepared traditional dishes for her host family.
Our US students are making impressions abroad, too. Dominique from Richland, WA, has been keeping friends and family back home up-to-date with blog posts about her adventures as a student in Ecuador. She even came up with a fun educational project to improve her own language skills by drawing various items, labeling them in Spanish, and then having her classmates label them in English; providing a joint learning opportunity.
These stories are just a few of the hundreds that exist, highlighting how curiosity about the world expands cultural awareness and acceptance of other ways to live, which in turn leads to broader perspective and greater understanding. Our students become teachers while on program, educating host parents, schools, and entire communities, modeling and explaining their indigenous cultures. It’s amazing to think about how these young people are shaping our world … and their own!
Happy International Education Week, and thank you for joining us in being catalysts for positive global change.