Michigan ranks high for hosting international exchange students

Many Michigan families have hosted an international exchange student from some organization to help our state rank very high in national statistics. Your family can help Michigan to keep climbing the ladder.

Artyom, a 4-H academic year-long exchange student from Armenia, is enjoying a cruise on Lake Huron during his Michigan exchange experience. Photo by D’Ann Rohrer, MSU Extension.
Artyom, a 4-H academic year-long exchange student from Armenia, is enjoying a cruise on Lake Huron during his Michigan exchange experience. Photo by D’Ann Rohrer, MSU Extension.

The mission of the Council on Standards for International Exchange Travel is to provide leadership and support for the exchange and educational communities to ensure youth are provided with safe and valuable international and cultural exchange experiences. The referenced statistics are from the 2016-2017 report released to partnering organizations. The Council on Standards for International Exchange Travel states that not all data is included since some organizations do not work with the Council, but they are confident it includes the vast majority. States’ 4-H International is the organization Michigan 4-H has collaborated with for over 45 years.

A big reason why the Midwest is the leading hosting region of students on the J-1 visa is due to Michigan. J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa issued by the United States to research scholars, professors and exchange visitors participating in programs that promote cultural exchange, especially to obtain medical or business training within the U.S. Michigan is second behind California as the top two hosting states in the nation for the total number of high school international exchange students. Michigan reports to have 2,429 year-long or semester-long inbound students.

Michigan 4-H places eight to 10 academic year-long exchange students each year. It’s a small piece of Michigan’s overall efforts, but Michigan 4-H exchange offers its exchange students educational opportunities other organizations do not. Our delegates attend 4-H Youth Leadership and Global Citizenship Spectacular and 4-H Capitol Experience, both a valuable experience for the delegates and Michigan 4-H youth who attend.

The exchange delegates have the opportunity to share about their country during the Leadership Spectacular and Michigan youth enjoy learning about other cultures and countries. Capitol Experience educates our international exchange students about how a democracy works in the United States. They receive a firsthand experience of how a bill is written, revised, presented and travels through the legislative process. Youth have the opportunity to meet lobbyist, visit the Senate or House of Representatives and other organizations tied to their topic area.

Michigan averages 2,332 year-long exchange students each year, calculated over the last 11 years. Where do all these students stay? They stay with host families interested in opening their homes to international students. These numbers are not attainable without host families. Michigan ranks second behind Idaho in ratio of international exchange students to state populations (1:4,085). Michigan ranks first on U.S. hosting of international exchange students on J-1 visa state rankings. J-1 students hosted in the U.S. over the course of five years has decreased—in 2012-2013, approximately 26,671 students participated in an international program compared to 23,716 in 2016-2017.

Why do families host? Some host to extend their family tree globally, helping their children think more worldly and to become more open-minded. Others host to learn about other cultures and customs, which peak their interest to travel to those countries. Is your family interested in hosting? Learn more at Michigan 4-H International Exchange Programs.

Contradictory to the J-1 visa trends, F-1 visa students hosted in the U.S. in the past five years has increased from 3,027 in 2012-2013 to 8,937 in 2016-2017. An F-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa for those wishing to study in the U.S. You must file an F-1 visa application if you plan to enter the U.S. to attend a university or college, high school, private elementary school, seminary, conservatory, language-training program or other academic institution.

One of the goals for Michigan 4-H International Exchange is to increase the number of outbound students. All organizations in Michigan send annually about 38 year-long or semester-long outbound students, which ranks Michigan fifth in the nation. The opportunity to travel abroad is so powerful in shaping our youth that 4-H clubs around the state are encouraging their membership to take part. However, outbound trends are declining drastically and Michigan 4-H International Exchange Program is working hard to change that. According to the Council on Standards for International Exchange Travel statistics, in 2006-2007 there were 2,359 students traveling abroad. In 2016-2017, only 856 students traveled through many organizations.

For 2019, you can travel to Japan, South Korea, Finland or Costa Rica. Traveling abroad will open your child’s mind to a more broad perspective. They will see how things are different and learn more about their own culture while living in another. The confidence, strength and global knowledge gained is immeasurable. If you are interested in traveling abroad for 2019, start planning now. Visit the 4-H Youth Outbound Travel and Japan Summer Outbound Exchange pages for more information.

4-H grows youth exchange statistics. If you would like to learn more about 4-H International Exchange Programs in Michigan, visit the Michigan 4-H International Exchange Program page or contact D’Ann Rohrer, international state coordinator for the Leadership and Civic Engagement Team, at drohrer@anr.msu.edu

To learn about the positive impact of Michigan 4-H youth leadership, citizenship and service and global and cultural education programs, read our 2016 Impact Report: “Developing Civically Engaged Leaders.” Additional impact reports, highlighting even more ways Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H have positively impacted individuals and communities in 2016, can be downloaded from the MSU Extension website.

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