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News - Youth For Understanding USA

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

Filtering by Tag: YFU USA

The Power of Exchange to Fight Xenophobia and Celebrate Diversity

Rachel Arnold Cooper

YFU’s mission remains as vital as ever. For almost 70 years, the YFU experience strives to correct false impressions and stereotypes that are all too easily formed.

As an intercultural exchange program, YFU seeks to eliminate the very thing that necessitated its founding: xenophobia. Defined as “fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers,” xenophobia is rebounding. This demands our attention and action today, just as it did after World War II, inspiring Rachel Andresen to facilitate exchanges between youth and communities in the United States and Germany, founding what we now know as Youth For Understanding USA. 

Go back where you came from!” was the “welcome” shouted at a YFU student from Thailand on his first day of school in the US - August 2019.

A YFU student from Mexico asked his Spanish teacher why a poster stating, “Build The Wall” was hanging in the class. Among the falsehoods on the poster was this: “If you look around the neighborhood, you can see that it is full of disgusting Mexican houses, full of the same illegal immigrants that are infecting and plaguing this country.” The teacher replied there was nothing offensive about the poster. The principal disagreed and required the poster be removed. March 2019.

These examples show an alarming trend of intolerance, one that YFU is dedicated to combat. YFU Founder Rachel Andresen believed in the power of exchange to eliminate fears and stereotypes – and she lived by the ideal that if you believe in something, you should take action. The YFU experience reinforces our common humanity in a world united by its appreciation for cultural diversity and rejection of harmful stereotypes that prevail in today’s society. Thankfully, YFU alumni, host families, and volunteers in the US and around the world embody this ideal as well. They include:

Karen, YFU host mom, who says, “Family means embracing others who share no blood, but who entrusted their child into your care. It means broadening your horizons, learning about differences and realizing being different isn't a bad thing. Family is finding out how much you are alike, even though you live on different continents and might only be able to communicate through a smile and hugs. Family isn't always about sharing ancestors....sometimes it's just about sharing love.”

Nina, YFU alum/2018 summer student to Japan, who says, “I can without a doubt say I’ve grown as a person, become more kind to people, especially to foreigners, because I now understand very clearly the difficulty and courage it takes to go someplace new. There’s no uncertainty when I say I will be using my gained knowledge to do something good in our world…”

Mary Jeanne, YFU volunteer, who says, “I get to see the goal of exchange work: teens from different countries and religions coming together on exchange and talking about peace and understanding for the future."

YFU’s mission - and its impact – remains as vital as it ever was. Our cultural exchange programs provide a reality check to a worldview based on stereotypes and hate. In helping people of all ages make the world their home, YFU helps them appreciate differences and embrace similarities. Ultimately, YFU’s programs transform who you are and permanently change the way you see, making us citizens of one world.

Join us in the fight against xenophobia - host an exchange student, volunteer, study abroad, or donate!

YFU USA Exchanges Once Again Recognized for Quality and Safety


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 2016-2017 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 in the three CSIET program categories for which it is eligible:

  • Inbound (J-1) Long-term
  • Outbound Long-term
  • Short-term Inbound/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. 

Longtime Volunteer Recognized with International Award

Jennifer McKendree

ach year the global Youth For Understanding (YFU) community nominates a volunteer from its network for the YFU International Volunteer Award. This award celebrates the volunteer, who, through their creativity, activities, and commitment to YFU’s mission and values, contributed significantly to advance growth and development to YFU programs and people to facilitate participant learning, support, and care. The 2015 recipient of this award was YFU USA’s volunteer nominee, Terri Elms from Colorado.

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