Use International 4-H exchanges to prepare for the global economy

Participating in international 4-H exchanges can benefit youth in preparing them for the global economy.

Different flags

We are living in a global economy. There are various activities to help youth prepare for their career in the global economy such as job shadowing, internships and pre-college programs. Participating in an international educational experience is beneficial for youth to learn more about the various cultures that are in this world and learn career skills. Youth can prepare for their career in this global economy by participating in the international exchanges provided by Michigan 4-H Youth Development. For example, through Michigan 4-H International Exchange Programs, youth have opportunities to host students from other countries or travel outbound to other countries.

In the Michigan 4-H Inbound Programs, youth/families can host youth from different countries for a certain period of time. Hosting an international student gives a youth participant an opportunity to learn about another culture and how to interact with another youth from a different country. From a career preparation perspective, it provides an opportunity for a youth participant to build a network with another peer from a different country.

In the Michigan 4-H Traveling Outbound Programs, youth have an opportunity to travel to other countries and stay with a host family. Traveling to another country gives youth an experience to travel and learn the logistics of foreign travel (if it’s their first time leaving the United States). He or she will be immersed in another culture and they can learn to live and interact in that culture. Just like an inbound program, this provides an opportunity for a youth participant to build a network with their peers and other adults from a different country.

Take note of the reasons that Michigan 4-H gives for participating in an international travel experience. These reasons put youth in position to learn hard skills and soft skills that can be used for their future career. They are:

  • Develop an appreciation of the social, economic, political and cultural contributions of other countries.
  • Better understand how culture influences values, beliefs and attitudes.
  • Live with host families and actively participate in family life.
  • Practice foreign language, verbal and nonverbal communication skills.
  • Participate in an educational tour to acquire specific subject matter skills and knowledge.
  • Prepare to share the international experience through presentations in their Michigan community.

Participants should journal their inbound or outbound learning experience to use for future job and scholarship applications and interviews. Here are some items they should journal.

  • What did I learn as a result of participating in this experience?
  • How can I use this for my future career?
  • How is this experience helping to prepare me for the global economy?
  • How will this experience help me to interact with others?
  • What were my challenges and how did I overcome them?
  • What positive changes (in attitudes and behaviors) occurred in me as a result of this experience?

Consider the career development perspective for participating in a Michigan 4-H International Exchange. If you’re a student and considering college, consider participating in a study abroad experience to continue to grow and prepare working in a global economy. The opportunities are there and can help.

Michigan State University Extension and Michigan 4-H Youth Development help to prepare young people for successful futures. As a result of career exploration and workforce preparation activities, thousands of Michigan youth are better equipped to make important decisions about their professional future, ready to contribute to the workforce and able to take fiscal responsibility in their personal lives.

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