Host an Exchange Student (or become one)- get interested!

I’ve been pretty lazy about advocating for YFU lately but seeing Scott again and just getting an email from my host mother in Finland motivated me to post about it.

As most of you know, I went on two summer trips as an exchange student with an amazing organization called Youth for Understanding (YFU) that I am gratefully indebted to. The summer of my sophomore year I went to Japan for six weeks and stayed with a host family in the small town of Miyazaki on the island of Kyushu. The next summer I went to Finland ( I know you’re asking why Finland?)for eight weeks and stayed with a wonderful host family in another small town called Pirkkala(near Tampere). So the common factor between these two trips is that they were FREE. Yeah, all you guju people read right- it says FREE. The organization that sponsors it has tons of scholarships for high school kids to study abroad. I went to Japan through a scholarship called Japan American Friendship Scholarship and it included airfare, domestic travel, and a week-long orientation in Tokyo. I went to Finland through the Finland-US Senate Scholarship which is an awesome program because they only pick 14 people from around the US. You’re stuck with these 14 people for two weeks and you do EVERYTHING together so you inevitably make 14 new friends for life. This scholarship included an orientation in DC, pre-departure and pre-arrival orientations in Finland, along with airfare and all of that. The Finnish Embassy in DC and the American Embassy in Finland both threw receptions for us and we got to meet both ambassadors along with other government officials. On both trips though, the most amazing part of it was staying with and getting to know my host families. They take you in and treat you like one of their own family members-it’s just an unforgettable experience. I miss my host families, especially the one in Finland, immensely and I get tears in my eyes just thinking about them. That’s how much of an effect a trip like this will have on you, guaranteed. Oh man, I could talk about my trips forever…Now I’m not writing about this to show off but I’m trying to get people interested. If you’re still in high school, have siblings in high school or know anyone in high school please please please tell them to check out this website and especially the scholarships. They have scholarship trips to Finland, Japan, China, Germany, and for some of them you can pick the country.
If you’re NOT in high school anymore, please consider hosting an international student. Ever since 9/11 people have been reluctant to send their kids abroad and even host foreign students. It is such a desperate situation that YFU has had to cancel some students trips because there were no available host families for them in the US. Somehow this doesn’t seem to be a problem in any of the other countries that YFU sends kids to, just the US. Hosting a student would be such an amazing experience. You get to learn about a new country and a new culture from a first hand source! You can contribute as much to their exchange experience as they can to your hosting experience. So please, if you or anybody you know is even remotely interested in hosting a student tell them to check this out:

I can’t express how important this is to me and I know that it’s even more important to the students who are coming from abroad.

Just check out the websites, it will only take a few minutes of your time. Thanks!

If you have any questions just leave me a comment and please pass this message along.

Here is our yearbook in progress from Finland:

Here’s the link to some more Finland and Japan pictures:


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