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YFU Blog - Recent stories about Youth for Understanding

Filtering by Tag: international education week

Celebrating International Education Week


IEW Collage

IEW Collage

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.

Celebrating Our Digital Diplomats




A note from YFU USA President, Michael Hill

As we begin our celebration of International Education Week, I’m struck by how technology has influenced our core mission here at YFU. A couple of weeks ago, I was honored to participate in a panel sponsored by the Digital Diplomacy Coalition and the United Nations Foundation (recording available at: the impact of the digital space and youth. 

Certainly digital media has shattered international borders in ways that make the work of those who engage in international education both exciting and challenging. While it has always been the case that students going on exchange represent their nations as diplomats in person, young people are harnessing technology and social media in creative ways, and in so doing, are becoming “digi diplomats.”

At YFU, we’ve seen some great examples this year already. Take a look at a YFU student from Mexico who decided that blogging was too boring and therefore created a video diary of his time in Denmark.

Better yet, YFU Germany student Alina is blogging for Spiegel, sharing in real time her experience of life in the United States as an exchange student.

These stories give us a peek inside the real struggles and triumphs of young people who have made the world their classroom. Through their words and images, we learn as much, if not more, about life in other nations as we could ever hope to learn in our traditional media coverage. It’s amazing to think about how these young people are shaping our world … and their own!

When our founder, Dr. Rachel Andresen, first created this program, students wrote letters home and reflected on their year in paper essays. In today’s exchange universe, students are sharing impressions of other cultures in real time. Their stories enrich us, their courage inspires us, their stories remind us how vital our mission remains to this day.

Happy International Education Week to all who care about this field, and to those young people on exchange: we can’t wait to share in the new stories you’ll create in the days and months to come.

YFU USA Celebrates International Education Week (IEW)


YFU USA is gearing up to celebrate International Education Week November 12-16.  Recognized and promoted by the U.S Department of State, we at YFU hope that you can celebrate this special week with us by promoting YFU and your journey as a volunteer, a student, a host family or supporter of international exchange.

How can I get involved?

  • Make a classroom or community presentation about Exchange and your home/host country

  • Talk to 5 friends about what it is like to be an exchange student

Need more ideas? Visit or email

Youth For Understanding USA ©