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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

YFU Board Chair Daryl Weinert and former President & CEO Michael E. Hill meet at Chautauqua Institution to converse about study abroad


YFU Board Chair Daryl Weinert visited former President & CEO Michael E. Hill at Chautauqua Institution. Hill was named the President of The Chautauqua Institution in New York in November 2016. 

[Michael] Hill referenced the “value of civil discourse at a discordant time,” both in the era of [Daryl] Weinert’s study abroad trip and in today’s political climate. He asked what the purpose was, then, for students to still go overseas amid global turbulence.

“You truly do not understand your own culture until you get out of your own culture,” Weinert said. “There’s just so much baggage associated in your own culture as you’re living it that you don’t even know, ‘What’s a part of my culture, what’s not, what’s core human values, what’s just cultural?’
— The Chautauquan Daily

YFU USA Celebrates Host Family Appreciation Day



YFU USA kicked off Host Family Appreciation Day 2017 by releasing a very special video of current international students thanking their American host families.  

More than 90 students submitted video clips to the organization, thanking their host family in preparation for the event.  Students were also reminded to do something nice for their host family on that day of appreciation. The results were delightful!

YFU hopes this event, occurring shortly before students’ departures to their home countries, serves as a reminder of the integral role host families play in the exchange experience. We couldn’t do it without them and they’ll never forget their new families!

Conquering the Seven Summits: Andrew Towne to Participate in Facebook Live Stream on 6/1

Alicia Kubert

Have you been following YFU Alum & Board member Andrew Towne’s journey to summit Mt. Everest and complete all of the Seven Summits? Join us on Thursday, June 1st (around 6:30pm EST) when he’ll be joining us at our national headquarters in Washington, DC for a live stream on our Facebook Page. We hope you’ll join us!

On May 25th, at about 4:35am, Pasang Kami (PK) and I reached the highest point on earth. We watched the sun rise over the Tibetan plateau as Mount Everest cast a shadow stretching into the horizon. We reverently acknowledged the Buddhist prayer flags and photo of the Dalai Lama that someone had placed on the summit, and we mentally prepared ourselves for the decent, even as we snapped a couple of photographs.
One other thing I am certain of is the power we have to change the world by enabling our youth to experience a foreign culture. Once a teenager understands the idea that a cultural difference is not necessarily good, or bad, but different, they become permanently more empathetic and curious about the human race. And the better we can understand one another, the easier we will be able to work together to promote our global well-being.

If you too believe in the transformative power of studying abroad and experiencing another culture, make a donation to Andrew’s scholarship fundraiser today!