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YFU Blog - Recent stories about Youth for Understanding

Filtering by Tag: scholarship

A Quick Transition



002016-06-22T14:14:00Z2016-06-22T15:12:00Z12401411Youth For Understanding USA257164414.0Normal0falsefalsefalseEN-USJAX-NONE/* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-priority:99;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;mso-para-margin-top:0in;mso-para-margin-right:0in;mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt;mso-para-margin-left:0in;line-height:107%;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}“When he got here, he didn’t like hugging people,” explained Roni Sutton, host mother and long-time YFU volunteer about her exchange student from Jordan, Ahmad. “That was pretty much the opposite when he left.”

On the last day of his senior year, Roni recalled Ahmad’s emotion as he said goodbye to friends and teachers who had so warmly accepted him into their lives. His good heart and ‘hysterically dry’ humor quickly gained him the respect of his peers in the classroom, and the love and laughter of the Sutton family at home.

“It took a week or so for him to settle in, but we knew he was comfortable when he started to crack his jokes – just like he was really a part of the family.” The Sutton family learned, however, that beneath his ever-smiling face and relaxed attitude was a caring, observant, and humble young man. He was quick to apologize anytime he felt a joke was not received well, and asked many questions to help him learn and better himself for next time.

His caring and adaptive nature did not stop here. During the month of Ramadan, Roni remembers Ahmad’s quiet diligence to follow his prayer, washing, and eating schedule, all while still spending time with the family and his friends.

“Normally, I would leave a plate of food for him in the fridge for him to warm up after it got dark,” she recollected. “The one time I forgot, he was so understanding and asked how he could help make something for himself.”

By the end of the school year, Ahmad had succeeded not only in learning about American society and culture, but also in teaching his own religious and native customs to his peers and host family members. 


Did you know that each year, YFU welcomes scholarship winners from several US Government sponsored programs? Learn more about hosting a YES Scholarship student like Ahmad and meet our incoming class of students today! 

Lifelong Friends in Another Place



002016-06-22T14:14:00Z2016-06-22T15:12:00Z13812240Youth For Understanding USA4011261014.0Normal0falsefalsefalseEN-USJAX-NONE/* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-priority:99;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;mso-para-margin-top:0in;mso-para-margin-right:0in;mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt;mso-para-margin-left:0in;line-height:107%;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:11.0pt;font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-font-family:Calibri;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-font-family:Calibri;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin;}The Noble-Olsen family welcomed Maan from Saudi Arabia during the 2015-2016 school year to develop what they agreed would be “a lifelong friend in a different place.” Patricia his host mother, explained to us how their multi-generational household was perfect for a transitioning Maan, who was accustomed to living and interacting with his extended family in Saudi Arabia. For the family, this also meant multiple generations’ worth of learning and understanding of the Islamic religion and of Saudi culture.

The holy month of Ramadan, which occurred during Maan’s stay with the Noble-Olsens, naturally came with obstacles that required cooperation and an open-mind from Maan and his new family. Included in these were Minnesota’s long days, during which he had to fast, leading to an eating schedule that was inconsistent with the typical family mealtimes, and in respect to Maan’s religion, the elimination of pork and alcohol from their diet.

Patricia, who has a background in religious studies, thoroughly enjoyed the process of her learning from Maan about Saudi culture and religion, but specified how the extent of learning reached beyond just her and Maan.

“He very much enjoyed talking about religion,” she said. “He presented to his class about Saudi Arabia, and loved to learn about the religion of others.”

In the household, it was clear that Maan’s energy was special, as Patricia recalls finding him in conversation with her 4-year-old granddaughter. 

“My granddaughter adored Maan,” said Patricia when asked of her favorite moment of his stay. “I remember the two of them sitting with each other at the dining room table talking. She reached up to grab his arm and said, ‘I love you,’ to which he said, ‘I love you too.’”


On the night of his departure, Patricia recalled her family’s final dinner for Maan as a heart-breaking experience. As he was leaving very early the next morning, each family member took turns saying goodbye before going to sleep for the night – but Maan had something else planned.

“I woke up the next morning to find a post-it note on the door to our bedroom saying, ‘Love you, Thank you!’ only to realize that there were countless notes around the house expressing Maan’s love and gratitude for individual members of the family. He left 96 notes around the house, and I was still finding them two weeks later,” Patricia reminisced.

The Noble-Olsen family found in Maan a perfect example of how an intercultural exchange program can convey such understanding and compassion in a family while showing a young scholar a world so different from their own.  

Did you know that each year, YFU welcomes scholarship winners from several US Government sponsored programs? Learn more about hosting a YES Scholarship student like Maan and meet our incoming class of students today! 

“Why Hosting Matters”


Host a YFU / U.S. Department of State-Sponsored

High School Exchange Student

Why hosting matters: Hosting is a catalyst in making us all citizens of one world. It brings culture and a sense of adventure to you and your family while teaching valuable lessons about acceptance and global unity to your community. Hosting brings the world home to you.

Each year, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs brings almost 2,000 high school students, representing over 50 countries, to study in a local U.S. high school while living with an American host family. Become a part of this unique opportunity by hosting a YES, FLEX or CBYX student with YFU this upcoming school year.

May 15, 2016 – International Day of Families

To all of our host families, thank you! Please help YFU and the U.S. Department of State celebrate this day and these unique hosting opportunities by posting images and messages on your social media accounts using the hashtag, #WhyHostingMatters. We want to see your hosting and exchange images on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, showing the world just how amazing it is to host these Scholarship recipients.


How to Make a Family in Just Six Weeks


00174425Youth For Understanding USA3149814.0Normal0falsefalsefalseEN-USJAX-NONE/* Style Definitions */table.MsoNormalTable{mso-style-name:"Table Normal";mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0;mso-tstyle-colband-size:0;mso-style-noshow:yes;mso-style-priority:99;mso-style-parent:"";mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt;mso-para-margin-top:0in;mso-para-margin-right:0in;mso-para-margin-bottom:8.0pt;mso-para-margin-left:0in;line-height:200%;mso-pagination:widow-orphan;font-size:12.0pt;mso-bidi-font-size:16.0pt;font-family:"Times New Roman";color:black;mso-themecolor:text1;}My host parents brought up my going to college, and asked how I planned to pay off student loans. I said that among other things, I would consider military service. The conversation continued, but I soon noticed my host mother hiding her tears. My host father’s eyes welled up as well, and he said that while enlisting would help cover the cost of education and serve my country, they couldn’t stand for me to be in danger... I then realized that I was not a guest in their house. I was their son.

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T-99 Days


Reblogged guest post from 2014-2015 CBYX Scholarship Recipient, LindseyOnly 99 days until my exchange year comes to an end. 99 days!

That isn’t a very long time!

And my host parents say that time will just fly faster the closer it gets to my departure date! It’s already going by pretty fast!

It feels like it was just yesterday when I flew in to the Frankfurt airport. When I met my 3-week host family. When I got to know the people in my Orientation Course.

Wasn’t it just yesterday when I hopped on that ICE train to Berlin (and sat in the completely wrong seat in the completely wrong train car) to meet my permanent host family?

Didn’t school just start? Wasn’t Christmas just a few weeks ago? When did it turn 2015? In just a few short days, am I really going to turn 17?!

I guess time goes by extremely fast when your brain has to figure out and process a lot of new things all the time.

With every new day comes a new chance for me to meet someone new, to try a new food, experience something I’ve never even dreamed of experiencing, or to settle in to the German culture. I am truly grateful towards my family, my host families, and also Youth for Understanding. Without the help of the CBYX Scholarship, I would never have had the chance to live my dreams. Because of YFU, I have become fluent in German, learned how to assimilate into another culture, gotten to try authentic German food, been able to see places that I didn’t even know existed, gotten to meet people from all over the world…and the list goes on!

So here’s to an amazing 99 days ahead of me! (and beyond!)

I hope my fellow exchange students here in Germany, in the US, and everywhere else in the world are enjoying their time too!


Mazda Foundation’s Generous Grant to Provide 6 YFU USA Scholarships to Japan


Youth For Understanding is proud to announce our 28th year of scholarship sponsorship by the Mazda Foundation (USA), Inc.  This year, the Mazda Foundation will sponsor scholarships for students to study in Japan for our 6 week summer program.  Please visit the links below for more information on this amazing scholarship opportunity!MAZDA FOUNDATION (USA), INC. AWARDS GRANTS TO A DOZEN COMMUNITY ... 

2013 Mazda/ Nationwide Community Scholarship Information Sheet

German Exchange Student Experiences American High School Spirit


Most Americans know Iowa for its agriculture. However, to Youth For Understanding (YFU) student Michael von Hohnhorst (far right), community spirit and high school activities are what make Iowa truly memorable.

Michael is an YFU Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) Scholarship winner who has just finished his program in Nora Springs, Iowa.

Although Michael was not initially too thrilled about the cornfields and landscape, he described everything about his exchange program as very good.

Michael stepped out from his comfort zone by participating in the school musical and taking his first cooking class. He even tried to cook some American and authentic German dishes for his host family.

“They liked my cooking, but of course they preferred American dishes.”

During Michael’s exchange program, he was very active in school and was fearless to try new activities and also played wrestling and football. He devoted a lot of time in these two sports and experienced the strong community and team spirit from partaking in the games.

“I liked seeing team work and the strong school and community spirit. Everyone in the community would go to the games.”

Michael described his wrestling experience as especially tough when cutting weight while everyone enjoyed good food during Christmas.

“Although the training was tough, it was great to learn the culture.”

Michael found out about the CBYX Scholarship from his dad and his schoolmates who were the recipients in the past.

Although the application process took Michael a long time with all the required essays, interviews, and group debates with other candidates, he still believes it is worth applying for the scholarship.

“I would recommend this program. Under the CBYX Scholarship I felt like being more than just an exchange student. I had a special mission like an ambassador of Germany. I can give something back afterward.”

Since 1983 more than 17,000 students have received the CBYX scholarship, which is funded jointly by both the U.S. Congress and the German Bundestag. Winners receive a full scholarship to study in the United States or Germany and stay with a host family for a year.

Youth For Understanding (YFU) is a non-profit international educational organization with programs in 64 countries and is one of the world's oldest, largest, and most respected exchange organizations. To learn more about hosting an exchange student, contact 1.866.4.YFU.USA (1.866.493.8872).

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