While I usually share travel experiences away from home on this site, I want to share something a bit different today. You can think of it as a chance to bring culture to you, instead of going out to seek it… By hosting a Cultural Educational Exchange student.
My high school in rural Iowa had quite a few exchange students over the years. My sister’s junior prom date was from Australia while my aunt and uncle hosted exchange students every year their daughters were in high school; they continue their relationships with their German “daughters” to this day and have visited them in Germany.
YFU USA is one of the most respected exchange programs in the world. Families and students are paired by field directors according to interests. There is a real need in the Midwest for host families. If this sounds interesting to you please read on for more information. If you are outside the Midwest region- but still interested- contact the Heartland District office at 866.493.8872; they will put you in touch with the office in your region.
YFU USA is a private, non-profit educational program dedicated to preparing young people for their responsibilities and opportunities in a changing, interdependent world. YFU USA is certified by CSIET standards. Youth For Understanding is one of the world’s oldest, largest, and most respected international exchange programs. Since 1951, YFU offices around the world have exchanged approximately 240,000 students.
In one year alone, approximately 4,000 students will participate in our programs worldwide. Through the exchange experience, YFU students gain skills and perspectives necessary to meet the challenges and benefit from the opportunities the fast-changing global community has to offer.
Hosting an international exchange student can be an enriching experience for the entire family that will last a lifetime. By opening your home and heart to a student from overseas, your family will gain a new global perspective, many memories, and – quite possibly – a new family member!
Students can be placed with families in the Heartland District depending on school availability. These students are of high school age and come from one of over 60 countries. The students bring their own spending money and have medical insurance. Families need to be able to share a loving and supportive family life as well as provide for an additional family member, including a separate bed, study area and three meals each day. Families should also be prepared share their community with their student.
All you need to host an international student is the ability and desire to open your home and heart to a new family member. When you volunteer to host an exchange student, you agree to:
v Welcome your new son or daughter as a member of your family.
v Help your student adapt to your family and to U.S. life and culture.
v Provide a safe and loving home environment including a bed, a place to study, and three meals a day.
v Attend orientation events, read the preparation materials, and maintain regular contact with your local volunteer.
v Understand policies and encourage your student to adhere to those policies.
v Familiarize your student with your community and its resources.
If you enjoy working with young people and families and want to make a difference in the world, volunteering at Youth For Understanding (YFU) USA may be right for you. As a YFU volunteer you’ll get to know teenagers who are adventurous, eager to learn and want to make a difference in the future. You’ll meet interesting people and enhance your relationships with people in your community and workplace. You’ll provide support and guidance to students and families, and learn more about family dynamics. Most of all, you’ll be making a significant contribution to improving cultural awareness and international understanding—changing your world a little bit at a time.
YFU volunteers can choose from a variety of positions to suit their interests, needs and schedule. The hours are flexible, and you can even be a virtual volunteer without ever leaving your home! YFU also gives you the freedom to promote programs in creative ways in your own community. You can work as a team, individually, with a friend or family member.
To find out more about becoming an American Overseas student, a Host Family or to volunteer for YFU-USA, the website is www.yfu-usa.org, or call the Heartland District office at 866.493.8872.