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News

YFU Alum & Board Member Reaches Top of Mt. Everest

Alicia Kubert

Grand Forks native climbs Mount Everest, completes Seven Summits

Andrew Towne has reached the top of the world.

The 2000 Grand Forks Central graduate summited Mount Everest late Wednesday night, International Mountain Guides confirmed, completing his quest to reach the highest point on all seven of the world's continents.

Towne, climbing in a group of 25 people including 15 Nepalese sherpas, reached the mountain's peak of 29,035 feet before noon local time.

By summiting Everest, Towne joined the rare club of climbers who have completed the Seven Summits.

According to 7summits.com, a website that tracks climbing statistics, fewer than 300 people in world history have done it.

Read full article from the Grand Forks Herald.


During the climb Andrew has been raising funds scholarships for young adults to partake in the adventure of studying abroad. Read more about his journey here

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

YFU Alum & Trustee Returns to Everest: Update #6

Alicia Kubert

UPDATE #6

We're excited to share that YFU Alum & Board member Andrew has summited Everest!

He's currently on his way down the mountain and on June 1st we'll be livestreaming him on our Facebook Page as he joins us in DC to speak about the experience. Want to help Andrew conquer another goal? Make a donation to his YFU scholarship fund drive and help him cross the finish line in raising $25,000 so young people can take the adventure of exchange. Special thanks to Scheels, Casual Adventure, K&J Jewelry, Abbell Associates and the Hal and Kathleen Gershman Family Foundation for their support and contributions!

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


Update #5

For those who have been following along on YFU Alum & Board member Andrew Towne’s journey to reach the peak of world’s tallest mountain, it’s nearly ‘go time’! Weather permitting, this Wednesday, Andrew’s group will attempt to summit Mt. Everest!

“I also feel incredibly supported---not only by the knowledge that you are following along and care about this dream and about intercultural exchange, but also by the myriad emails folks have sent expressing curiosity about the climb, well wishes for our ascent, and solidarity with Youth For Understanding's mission to help teens see the world through another's eyes… Onward! Upward! Talk to you on the other side!!!”

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

Andrew testing his oxygen system in preparation to attempt to summit Mt. Everest

Andrew testing his oxygen system in preparation to attempt to summit Mt. Everest


Update #4

For the last six weeks, Andrew Towne a YFU Alum & Board member has been trekking across Nepal with the goal of summiting Mt. Everest. Compared to his attempt in 2015, which was derailed by a 7.9 earthquake, luckily this time, his journey has been much smoother. His group recently ascended Khumbu Icefall for the 3rd time in preparation for a 4th ascent that will likely take place next week, when they will attempt the summit.

“I want to thank you for your interest in this dream. You may have supported YFU via this climb because its mission speaks to you as it speaks to me. And that means the world to me. Thank you.”

Don't forget, if you'd like to receive more in-depth updates from Andrew’s Everest adventure, you can make a donation to his scholarship fundraiser and get added to his dispatch list!

Rapelling down a cliff in the Icefall (photo credit Luke Reilly)

Update #3

YFU Alum & Board member Andrew Towne just sent in his third update from Nepal as he continues his second attempt at summiting Mt. Everest after surviving an earthquake that hit during his first attempt in 2015. 

"We just returned from our first acclimatization rotation up Mt Everest, and everything is going well!! Acclimatization rotations are how we expose our bodies gradually to thinner and thinner air.  Our first rotation involved climbing Lobuche Peak (~19,500'). The second rotation that we just finished took us to the base of the Lhotse face (~21,500'), and our third rotation will take us halfway up the Lhotse face to Camp 3 (~24,000'). On our fourth rotation, we will attempt the summit!"

Update #2

On Monday, Andrew and his group summited Lobuche Peak (~19,500') and are now at Everest Base Camp (~17,500') taking a rest day before doing a 'dry run' up the Khumbu Icefall to get comfortable with its crevasses and ladders. Thanks to your generous support, Andrew’s scholarship fundraiser only has a little over 25% of the way to go to meet his goal in helping deserving youth experience another culture! 

“We spent a couple of days acclimatizing at the base of Lobuche Peak (~16,500'). During that stay, our team shot a music video to Marvin Gaye's 'Ain't No Mountain High Enough.' One of our team members was a former ballerina, and another had a good eye for videography. With me helping to organize and direct the production, we made a pretty hilarious video—complete with Pulp Fiction dance moves and a Sherpa re-enactment of a scene from the movie Titanic.” 

Update #1

Curious how YFU Alum & Trustee, Andrew Towne's second attempt at summiting Mt. Everest is going? We just received his first update!

“Everything is going great so far! We are at the base of Lobuche Peak (~15,500'), about to move up to Everest Base Camp (~17,500') to begin rotations to successively higher altitudes. Tourism has rebounded well since the 2015 earthquake. Teahouses throughout the Khumbu seem busy, and our Sherpa teammates report that all of their homes/villages have been rebuilt. Kathmandu still shows some damage, but the city is as vibrant and welcoming as I remember it. We’re an eclectic group of climbers and trekkers who get along well. We enjoy reading, playing cards, and drinking tea during long, restful afternoons acclimatizing.Thanks to your generous support, we are almost 70% of the way to raising $20,000 to help deserving youth experience another culture!”

In 2015 Andrew Towne a survived a 7.9 earthquake while attempting to climb Mt. Everest. Today, he begins his journey back to Nepal, headed back for a second try. Once again, he'll also be raising scholarship funds that will provide students with the same life changing opportunity he had as a teen - to study abroad!

Learn more and make a donation to his fundraiser to get on his dispatch list to receive periodic updates during the course of his climb!

To kick off his journey, Andrew was just featured in the Grand Forks Herald.

YFU USA Exchanges Once Again Recognized for Quality and Safety

Alicia Kubert

YFU USA Receives Full Listing in Three CSIET Listing Categories

Youth For Understanding USA (YFU) is pleased to announce that The Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET) continues to recognize YFU for its commitment to quality and safety in their 2017-2018 Advisory List.

CSIET is a not-for-profit organization committed to quality international educational travel and exchange for youth at the high school level. Its purpose is to identify reputable international youth exchange programs; to provide leadership and support to the exchange and educational communities; to ensure youth are provided with meaningful and safe international exchange experiences; and to promote the importance and educational value of international youth exchange.

YFU USA has received Full Listing across all three CSIET program categories for which it applied:

  • J-1 Inbound
  • Short-term Outbound
  • Long-term Outbound

This achievement reflects YFU’s global commitment to quality, and consistent application of CSIET standards throughout the international YFU network.

Families around the world trust YFU because of its strong reputation for quality, high safety standards, and knowledgeable and local support network. As one of the world’s oldest and largest exchange organizations, YFU has provided study abroad opportunities to more than 70 countries for 260,000+ high school students since 1951.

Annual application for listing in the CSIET Advisory List is voluntary. Organizations and programs are accorded Full Listing in the CSIET Advisory List when they have demonstrated full compliance with all CSIET Standards. 

From Cold War to travel ban, Ann Arbor-founded exchange program promotes "one-on-one diplomacy"

YFUUSAblog

Deb Anderson with a photo of her grandmother and Youth For Understanding Founder Rachel Andresen. Photo taken by Doug Coombe.

Deb Anderson with a photo of her grandmother and Youth For Understanding Founder Rachel Andresen. Photo taken by Doug Coombe.

Deb Anderson sums up Youth For Understanding (YFU), the nonprofit her grandmother founded 65 years ago in Ann Arbor, with a simple question: "How can you hate someone that you don't even know?"

The Whitmore Lake resident heard many stories growing up about the "ragtag group" of 75 German teenagers her grandmother, Rachel Andresen, brought to Michigan for a year as YFU's first group of foreign exchange students. Andresen was director of the Ann Arbor-Washtenaw Council of Churches at the time, and she was inspired to help rebuild Europe after traveling there and seeing the destruction in the late '40s.

YFU has since grown to become one of the largest intercultural exchange programs in the world. With operations in more than 60 countries and 4,000 annual participants globally today, the nonprofit organization has helped exchange 250,000 students worldwide to date. When you factor for family members and classmates those students interact with, it's reasonable to estimate millions of people have been impacted by YFU over the years.

Its United States headquarters moved from Ann Arbor to Washington, D.C., in the '70s, but YFU still has a strong local presence. In recent years the organization has also made some new local connections, tapping local leadership for its board of trustees and partnering with the University of Michigan's (U-M) Tauber Institute to help improve its operations. Read the full article.

Summer's a great time to dive into a foreign language

Alicia Kubert

For a lot of kids, summer is a time to travel intellectually as well as literally, to dive headlong into new languages and cultures in a way that classroom learning alone doesn’t allow.
— Katherine Roth, Associated Press

Heather Deno shares details on YFU's summer exchange programs and classroom excursions with the Associated Press in their recent article "Summer's a great time to dive into a foreign language.

YFU exchange student Maya Hammond, right, jumping for a photo while hiking the Great Wall of China in Beijing for the first time with her European classmate.

YFU exchange student Maya Hammond, right, jumping for a photo while hiking the Great Wall of China in Beijing for the first time with her European classmate.