As a lot of you know, I volunteer and host with Youth for Understanding, a non-profit, volunteer based, cultural exchange organization for high school students. YFU means a lot to me. My parents hosted when I was young and now my husband and I are involved. YFU is a unique opportunity to help change the world. There are so many misconceptions about the United States, and hosting a student is a way to share our country, our traditions, our culture and our incredible diversity with young people from around the world so that they can take that new perspective home with them and share it with their family and friends.
YFU is not only for young people wanting to come here to America, but also for our young American teens to have the opportunity to study abroad. Our children can go to Europe, Asia, South America and more, live with a family from that country and learn more about another culture than they ever could in a classroom. Immerse themselves in another language, get to know people from another part of the world and their traditions and bring that knowledge home with them to share.
Robert and I hope that Conor chooses to go on an exchange when he’s old enough. In fact, we plan to encourage it. We just hope that when it’s his turn, there will be a family willing to open their home and their hearts.
I realize that hosting isn’t for everyone. It’s a big commitment, I won’t lie. But done right, it’s a life changing experience for everyone involved. And if hosting a student doesn’t sound like it’s for you, that’s fine. We are always looking for volunteers to help mentor students coming here, or going abroad. Even just telling others about our program is fantastic and incredibly helpful.
I would never want to pressure anyone (at least not a lot *wink wink*)into hosting a student, nor would I want to offend anyone by giving the impression that if they don’t want to host then they’re wrong, or whatever. I just want to tell people about a wonderful organization and how it has expanded my family in ways I never could have imagined. Our children, to coin a phrase, are our future……wouldn’t it be wonderful if they were able to see past cultural differences and get to what really matters?