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YFU

YFU Blog - Recent stories about Youth for Understanding

Filtering by Tag: international student

Welcoming our First Exchange Student!

brandpointyfu

My husband and I always wanted to be exchange students but the opportunity never really presented itself. One day while at our local YMCA we were presented the opportunity to host an exchange student. After about 45 minutes of chatting, we took the plunge & before too long we were looking at potential students to come live with us. 

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A Look Back at the 2017-2018 USA Exchange Year

brandpointyfu

Some of our favorite moments from the 2017-2018 YFU USA program year.

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An Exchange Experience

brandpointyfu

For those families who have considered an exchange opportunity, do it! You will quickly realize the world is smaller than you think and that we are more similar than different from one another. Hosting a student is an opportunity you won’t regret with life-long memories made for everyone involved.

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What Family Means to Me...

brandpointyfu

TODAY IS INTERNATIONAL DAY OF FAMILIES, AND WE WANTED TO SHARE HOW ONE YFU HOST FAMILY HAS EXPANDED BECAUSE THEY OPENED THEIR HEARTS AND THEIR HOME TO AN INTERNATIONAL STUDENT.

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How Will You Give Back this Global Youth Service Day?

brandpointyfu

Did you know that April 17-19 is Global Youth Service Day? Consider hosting an event that gives back to your community while helping to increase awareness that we're all citizens of one world.This occasion provides the perfect opportunity to come together with your fellow volunteers, staff, students and families to share our mission within your local communities. Think about the causes that inspire you and come up with your own project or find a local event to participate in.

Have fun and get creative! You could:

  • Be ambassadors for peace - bring together area exchange students and cultural groups for an interactive intercultural day celebrating diversity

  • Offer to tutor students in language or world history

  • Get together with your neighbors and plant a community garden

  • Connect with elderly citizens through cultural presentations at a local senior residence

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Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 1.01.53 PM

One needs look no further than YFU students Sarah and René for inspiration.

René volunteered in a broad range of community service activities including walking to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, dismantling holiday decorations for the City of Ann Arbor, removing invasive plant species in Ann Arbor parks and cutting branches at a park on Nature Area Workday, shoveling snow for elderly neighbors, leading games for children at a pool event, and helping raise awareness of CBYX, YFU, and exchange through booths at community events. For GYSD René pulled weeds and invasive species in local forest to help regrowth of native species.

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Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 1.02.06 PM

While on program, Sarah completed more than 137 hours of community service! Her involvement included everything from coaching youth soccer, volunteering at American Red Cross blood drives, participating in community recycling events, organizing international lunches where students brought dishes representative of different countries and discussed the culture and food of the country to classroom presentations on her native culture and language. She continued her involvement by participating in GYSD as a volunteer at the City of Portsmouth's Quarterly Hazardous Waste Collection, Document Shredding, and Electronics event.

Find more ideas and tips inYouth Service America's planning toolkitfor creating your own GYSD community project!

rosen5

rosen5

Share your service projects & photos on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #yfuGYSD. We’ll be following along and might even share your project on our social media. We can't wait to see how you will get involved!

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Screen Shot 2015-04-09 at 1.06.14 PM

5 Tips for Host Parents

brandpointyfu

Exchange students are arriving soon. To help new host parents prepare, we’ve drawn from the wisdom of past parents by asking for advice on Facebook and Twitter. Below are 5 tips from host parents to help make sure your student’s arrival goes smoothly.1.  Figure out what your exchange student is going to call you. You can have them call you mom or dad or by your first name. Whatever it is you’d like them to call you, be sure to tell your exchange student what that is. This is a good way of opening up communication among the family and making yourself approachable to your exchange student.

2.  Be clear about the expectations of the house. In fact write down any house rules and go through them with your exchange student. The students are in a totally new situation, and some structure will help them adjust to it.

3.  Privacy! These students will be a part of your family in no time, but everyone needs privacy, even--and sometimes especially--with their family. This can be done in very simple ways such as, giving them some time to themselves each day, and making yourself available without hovering over them. A little privacy can go a long way in building trust.

4.  Don’t plan too much for them, at least not when they first arrive. We know you’re excited and they are too. But they’ve also just arrived in an unfamiliar place after a long trip, so give them a little time to adjust. You’ll have plenty of time for activities once the jet lag has worn off.

5.  They’re new here, so be patient. Yes, they’ve studied English, but they’ll still need some time to get used to speaking it outside of their classroom. The students will also need time to get used to aspects of American life that most of us take for granted. Of course you’re there to help guide them through it, but some things just have to be experienced. They’ll be comfortable in no time, so just be patient.

Have any tips yourself? Share them on our Facebook page or Twitter account!

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My Exchange Student Is The Best Because...

brandpointyfu

Jennifer - Host Mom

Jennifer - Host Mom

One day, after my husband and I had hosted 4 exchange students, my aunt asked me which one was my favorite kid.  I was stumped on how to answer the question and all I could do was to ask her which of her two natural children was her favorite.  She just looked at me with the expression of a point well taken.  A couple weeks later, I figured out how to answer that question:  My favorite foreign son/daughter is whichever one is currently physically with us.  Therefore, at the time I am writing this, I can clearly and boldly state that student #7, Nils Bluemke from Germany, is my favorite and THE best exchange student on Earth.

I make this statement based on what he has given up to be here and what he has contributed to our small, dysfunctional, family.

The things he has given up to be here are: two younger sisters that love him very much (we don’t have any kids of our own), climate and atmosphere (there is a BIG difference between Wenzendorf and Cheyenne, especially since the elevation of Cheyenne 6000-6200 feet), sane parents, scouting, cousins that live just a few houses away and are more or less like additional brothers and sisters, certain freedoms and favorite foods, gardening (again, due in large part to climate and elevation), and the ability to be with his friends and girlfriend.  He has given these up for ten and a half months without complaint in words, actions, or attitude.  We know he misses all of these very much, but he has done quite well at overcoming that feeling.

What he has contributed to our family is absolutely immeasurable.  He has been our son in every way practical.  Many people have commented that someone who didn’t know that Nils was from Germany would swear that we are a natural family.  Not only does he (in many ways) look like us physically, but he acts like us and our interactions are very much typical for a son and parents.  His good-night hugs feel very warm and genuine, he is quite playful with us, and (like his host father) he teases me relentlessly.  Each of our kids has brought something unique to our family.  Nils has brought more laughter than I could have ever imagined (there are valid reasons for why I have nicknamed him Nutty Nils) and, as a budding amateur photographer, literally thousands of photos.  He is also incredibly helpful around the house.  He mows the yard, does the dishes, and vacuums without complaint, he decorated the house quite beautifully for Christmas, and he has planted some strawberry, blueberry, and raspberry plants as well as some flowering vines along our fence.  Not only will we get to enjoy sweet fruit (assuming the birds don’t eat them first), every time we look out the window we will have a visual reminder of what he is leaving behind with us.  He has also been my husband’s best buddy and building partner during the rebuild of a small airplane.  My husband’s biggest passion is flying and now he’ll be able to feel Nils’ presence every time he goes up.  I think that even the cat, whom Nils tortures incessantly, will miss him when he returns to Germany.

At times it seems like my life has become dominated by my volunteer work with YFU and writing this has been very difficult for me for multiple reasons; but if it helps another mother feel for one millisecond what I feel when I think about our Russian, Hungarian, Danish, and Finnish daughters or our two German sons, or helps another student have a successful year, it is well worth it!

- Jennifer Russell, host mom from Cheyenne, WY

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

My YFU Family Is The Best Because...

brandpointyfu

Cecilie

Cecilie

MY YFU family is the best because, they took me in as a part of their family, they care as much for me as their own amazing kids. They wanna do EVERYTHING to make me feel welcome and happy.

When I go shopping with them for food and stuff they always ask me if there is anything special I want for my lunch. They are willing to buy stuff for me that none of them really eat, I think that’s amazing. I just think you gotta be something special if you’re willing to open your home and heart for a stranger from another country. Not a lot of people would take that chance. I’m so thankful that they did, cause they are simply the best family I could end up in. They are so amazing that I have a hard time saying why they are.

One of the things I will always remember about my host dad is his coupons. He has one for every where he goes. He love saving money, and he loves to give them to me and my siblings when we go out w/o him, too. He loves helping people and we are often late as a family when we go places because he is helping someone else with a door or a car or something like that.

My family is the best because, they are, helpful, caring, loving, happy, late, open, funny, adventurous, smiling, laid-back and just simply amazing!

- Cecilie from Denmark stayed with the Johnston Family in Milan, OH

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

My YFU Family Is The Best Because...

brandpointyfu

Savannah

Savannah

My YFU family is the best because of the complete immersion in their family they allowed me to have.

My host family gave me a second home, where I became a part of their family. They taught me German and supported me through the good times as well as the harder times. They forgave my mistakes and gave me second chances. They showed me a new world that I quickly came to love. My host family’s kindness will never be forgotten.

My host sister became like my real sister, and we are now, after two years, still very close. We see each other very often and talk almost every day. Her support and caring was incredible. I love her as a sister and respect her as a friend. She was and has stayed my best friend.

My host family is the best. There is no doubt of that in my heart.

- Savannah from Michigan was awarded the CBYX scholarship to study in Cologne, Germany for a year

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

My YFU Family is the best because...

brandpointyfu

Katharina

Katharina

Katharina was an exchange student from Germany with the Becigneul family in Southfield, Michigan. She says her host family did so much for her that “they made one amazing year possible.” Apart from being thankful for her host mom Mimi’s effort to get her the best American high school experience, she enjoyed spending time with them and felt like she became part of the Becigneul family at the end of the year.

My host sister, Madison, at the time twelve years old, was a big help for me in the beginning, too. Every time we went out to eat, I was too insecure to order my food myself, so she was the one who would order it for me without complaining :). She also showed me around the neighborhood and took me to my very first garage sale.

It was not all happy all the time though. Two teenage girls in one house, of course there was going to be some drama. Mimi put up with all our childish fights though, and at the end of the year, when Madison and I worked out our differences, we had a blast that last summer, taking a sewing class together or riding our bikes to the two miles away Dairy Queen to get some ice cream. But also during the year, Madison and I got through some adventures together, for example taking the bus, which really is quite an adventure in the Metro Detroit area. We stood there waiting for an hour while it was snowing very hard (we had a snow day that day).  We survived a creepy staring guy, got off one station too soon and walked the rest of the way. Against all odds, it was a really fun experience that we shared.

But also my extended YFU family was amazing! Madison’s aunt and Mimi’s Daughter, Michelle, her husband Mark and their five kids, Connor, Cassidy, Caitlyn, Dillon and Riley, ages 12-7 at the time, welcomed me with open arms. I got to spend a lot of time with them, and the kids were always just as excited to hang out with me as I was to hang out with them. Oftentimes, they assisted me in my cooking and baking adventures when I tried to make some German specialties (which sometimes didn’t work out that well :)). Michelle took her kids, Madison and me to do a lot of fun things over the year, for example seeing downtown Detroit or going on a trip to Chicago over a weekend. Mark was somebody who was always able to broaden my horizons when talking about various different topics. Additionally, he probably makes the best grilled chicken I have ever had in my life :) I was always welcome at Michelle and Mark’s house and I had a blast every time I went there.

At family reunions, everybody was so nice and open towards me. I am not the most outgoing person when it comes to people I don’t know that well, but everybody was so interested in me and where I come from, I never even once felt uncomfortable, and by the end of the year, I felt like I really became a part of the family.

My host family also made it possible for me to travel around the US and see some more than Michigan. For Thanksgiving (a holiday that doesn’t exist in Germany like that), we went to Indianapolis to visit some friends of Mimi’s. I could not have asked for a better way to experience Thanksgiving, with amazingly nice people and a really full tummy. For Christmas Break, we went to visit Mimi’s other daughter and her family in North Carolina, so I got the chance to get to know another bunch of amazing people, visit one of the southern states and see the campus of Duke University.  In the summer, we also went to visit some family in Canada, where I got to see Toronto and Niagara Falls.

My YFU family and I went through all the ups and downs of an exchange year together. We enjoyed the fun times and worked through the hard ones. With all that and everything they have done for me, I would not hesitate a second to tell everybody that my YFU family is the best and how grateful I am for one amazing year with them :)

-- Katharina from Germany - Exchange student in school year 2011-2012

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