Each year more than 4,500 students participate in Youth For Understanding exchange programs worldwide. YFU was created in1951 by Dr. Rachel Anderson and has become one of the most well established foreign exchange programs in the nation, providing opportunities for families from 60 countries.  

Although not everyone wants to take the plunge into another culture by studying abroad, hosting a student from another country can bring a different cultural experience to American families—and in a personal way. When hosting an international student, families learn not only about the foreign student's culture but see their own in new ways. The experience connects people in friendships, promoting peace and understanding for future generations.  

Host families need to be interested in teenagers, able to provide a stable family unit, and offer emotional support during the time of adjustment. This minimun requirement includes a separate bed (though a bedroom can be shared), three meals a day, and a suitable study area. Host families can be younger couples without children, empty nesters whose children have grown and gone, or families with one or more children. These exchange students speak English and have been chosen through a thorough selection process to ensure that they will be successful in local community schools, where they count as regular students for state funding purposes. 

Jenny Rogers, Sweetland Field Director for YFU, is working hard to find host families for 50 students throughout the greater Mid-Michigan and thumb areas. "To be completely placed, students need to be enrolled in school for the 2010-2011 academic year," Rogers explains, adding, "This means that I need to find hosts for them before the schools go on summer break and their offices close." Rogers welcomes inquiries by those interested in either hosting a student or becoming an exchange student themselves. She can be contacted at Youth For Understanding USA, 6264 Dixie Highway, Bridgeport, MI 48722, 1-866-493-8872 or  989-777-4420, and  jrogers[at]yfu.org. For more information, see also www.yfu-usa.org.