Today, YFU celebrates the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.Read More
Filtering by Tag: youth
Interview by YFU Alumnus and Campus Ambassador Ronak Gandhi with YFU Field Director, Host Mother & Area Representative Kylie Neidich
Why do you believe that study abroad programs are not only beneficial, but also crucial for the youth of tomorrow?
I believe that our youth are often unaware of the cultural differences, how different every country is, and I think that studying abroad can help them further in life. It also looks great on college applications and applications for jobs because of that experience.
What was your motivation for volunteering and hosting with YFU?
I wanted my own children to learn about other cultures, while also getting to share our own. We love being able to share the kitchen with our students, as they teach us dishes from their own country. Believe it or not, I am the pickiest eater, but I have changed my eating habits due to my exchange students. When we moved to Texas we were the only family who hosted and I hated that our student couldn’t interact with others, so that got me more involved with volunteering. I’ve helped in planning events and in the growth and expansion of my field!
We have tasted food from other countries that we would have never been able to otherwise try, and my kids have been introduced to several languages including Thai, French, Swiss, and German! We gain so much through hosting. It truly is life changing.
Can you share some of the best memories and unexpected surprises from your hosting experiences?
The best memories would be watching them grow into sports that they may never have played before (esp.
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.
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!
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: http://digidiplomats.com/socialgood) on 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.