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News - Youth For Understanding USA

Latest news about Youth for Understanding USA student exchange programs worldwide – Events – Partnerships.

Howell High School Principal Receives YFU Education Innovation Award



CONTACTS: Christina Mazzanti

Thomas Gould


Youth For Understanding USA Selects Howell High School Principal Jason Schrock for

Education Innovation 2017 Award

Howell, MI, (September 12, 2017) Youth For Understanding USA Intercultural Exchange Programs (YFU) nominated Howell High School Principal Jason Schrock to be this year’s recipient of its Education Innovation Award. In a ceremony held at Howell High School on September 12, 2017, Principal Schrock was recognized for his significant contributions to the field of education through service, commitment and deepening the experience of cultural exchange for students.

“YFU enjoys the support of educators throughout the US and across our 70 partner countries,” said YFU President and CEO Scott Messing, “but Principal Schrock stands out for his tireless decades of dedication to fostering the YFU mission of advancing intercultural understanding, mutual respect, and social responsibility through exchanges for youth, families, and communities here in Howell.” Since 1995, prior to becoming principal of the school, Jason Schrock has been instrumental in welcoming 49 YFU exchange students into the school community and endorsing a culture of international awareness and global citizenship throughout the school. YFU exchange students attending Howell for the school year have included German, Italian, Chinese, French, and Finnish nationalities among many others.

“Each year, Mr. Schrock welcomes exchange students from around the world to Howell High School. He works incredibly hard to help build meaningful connections between the school’s resident student body and the exchange students. He also strives to ensure that each exchange student feels comfortable and welcome in the school,” said Erin MacGregor, Howell Public Schools superintendent.

The award ceremony was attended by Howell Public Schools administrators, Howell High School staff members and this year’s YFU exchange students from Korea, Germany, Thailand and Japan as well as their host families.

A commemorative display case donated to Howell High School by YFU will be a prominent reminder of the central and ongoing role international exchange plays in fulfilling Howell Public Schools’ motto of “Empowering students to be successful citizens.” 

About YFU
For learners of all ages who want a life-changing cultural exchange experience, Youth For Understanding (YFU) offers a wide range of opportunities to see the world up close. The global YFU network, consisting of partners in more than 70 countries, is united by the belief that curiosity about the world expands cultural awareness and acceptance of other ways to live, which leads to broader perspective and greater understanding. Selected to administer more government and corporate scholarships than any other high school exchange program, YFU has remained a trusted leader of intercultural exchange programs since 1951 because of its commitment to safety, reputation for quality, and exceptional support services.

YFU advances intercultural understanding, mutual respect and social responsibility through educational exchanges for youth, families and communities.

About Howell Schools

Howell Public Schools is a traditional K-12 public school district location in Howell, Michigan that serves more than 7,100 students attend Howell Public Schools. The district is made up of six elementary schools, two middle schools a Freshman Campus and a 10-12 building. Students at Howell Public Schools are taught by highly qualified teachers and have access to a wide range of educational opportunities including Project Based Learning, Leadership programs, an early college program and career and technical education courses.

Jason Schrock, Principal Howell High School and Scott Messing, President and CEO YFU USA September 12, 2017

Jason Schrock, Principal Howell High School and Scott Messing, President and CEO YFU USA September 12, 2017

Alliance for International Exchange promotes Exchange Program Support


We are former United States Ambassadors to countries across the globe. While we may differ in political ideology, we write today united with one voice to ask that the Senate and House Appropriations Committees support full funding in fiscal year 2018 for the Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs,” wrote the ambassadors.

“In the countries where we have served, we have seen exchange programs help draw emerging political leaders closer to the United States, provide international scholars with critical information and contacts they need in America, and strengthen the appreciation of our country by exposing hundreds of thousands of people to our culture. These are the soft-power results that complemented our direct diplomacy efforts in countries that are critical to our national security,” they continued.
— Ilir Zherka, Executive Director of the Alliance for International Exchange - Huffpost


A lifetime of thanks to YFU and to a host family that would become simply – family


The summer I graduated high school (in Berkley, Michigan), I spent two months in Japan through the YFU program. That summer I fell in love with Japan and with my host family, especially my Japanese “mother”. Thanks to that experience, Japan has become my second home and that family my second family, up to this day. I have lived in Japan twice, for two years apiece – once in a tiny farming village at the foot of Mt. Fuji and once in the center of Tokyo. Thanks to these experiences, my Japanese is fluent. I have also maintained a close relationship with my Japanese family (my “mother” in particular) and have visited there fourteen times in the last 30 years, usually for a full month. Beyond that, my seminal experience in Japan as a 17-year-old ignited an interest in other cultures in general, and I have spent a total of 10 years living abroad, in such countries as Nepal, India, Spain, and Latin America. I also spent ten years in San Francisco teaching English to immigrants and refugees.

The most enduring and enriching legacy of my time as a YFU exchange student has been my relationship with my Japanese mother.  Aside from being a well-known crusader for the peace movement, she is an avid appreciator of all things human – culture, history, art, cuisine, you name it. Her enthusiasm for so many things has inspired me and enriched my life. My first visit to Japan was 52 years ago – in 1965. My most recent visit with my Japanese mother – now 98 – was this month. She is failing, physically and mentally, and I am now the one who takes care of her – I cook her meals, prepare her baths, clean her house. I couldn’t possibly repay all that she has given me. Nor could I repay what YFU gave me that first summer abroad. 

Thank you.         

Eric Burton (YFU Japan ’65)

Eric Burton and his host mother - 1965

Eric Burton and his host mother - 1965

Eric Burton and his host mother - 2017

Eric Burton and his host mother - 2017