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Blog

Obama Champions Youth Exchange and Study Abroad

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A note from YFU USA President, Michael Hill

Person to person diplomacy and cultural exchanges are increasingly valuable in our interconnected world. US President Barack Obama agrees.

Last week, the US President and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a new program which will aim to double the number of youth exchanges between Japan and the US by 2020.

President Obama said:

I’m pleased that we continue to deepen the extraordinary ties between our people, especially our young people…  And I’m proud to announce that we’re launching a new program that will help even more Japanese students come to the United States to improve their English-language skills and gain valuable experience working in American businesses and organizations. And that’s part of our effort to double student exchanges by 2020 -- bonds among our young people that can bring us closer together for decades to come.

YFU helps provide opportunities for students by working in partnership with governments, corporations, foundations, schools and educators worldwide. I had the privilege of visiting our team in Japan last November and had the opportunity to visit the US Embassy - on the same day as the new US Ambassador, Caroline Kennedy, started her tenure. The buzz through Tokyo was palpable. Crowds lined the streets to try to get a glimpse of her on as she made her way to the Imperial Palace to present her credentials. While we didn’t meet the new Ambassador, we were able to spend time with Sara Harriger, the Education and Exchanges Officer from the US Embassy. We talked a great deal about ways we could support one another and the importance of youth exchange in preparing our young adults for future leadership roles.

YFU USA, CEO Michael E. Hill & YFU Japan, National Director Keiko Enatsu

Through creating global learning opportunities, YFU is driving person to person diplomacy. We promote  international understanding, prosperity and world peace by enabling young people to build lifelong understanding, relationships and lasting memories.

I’d like to thank both President Obama and Prime Minister Abe for sharing our commitment to youth exchange and making it a part of the broader geo-political conversation. Arigato gozaimasu!