Youth exchange programs available through 4-H

Youth can travel and host to learn about other countries cultures through the 4-H International Exchange program.

4-H offers many exchange opportunities for young people to travel to other countries and also to host students from other countries. Through Future Leader Exchange, students travel to the United States from Armenia, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Servia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Uzbekistan and Ukraine. Future Leader Exchange is run by the U.S. Department of State. Students from Japan, Korea and Mexico also travel to the United States through the Future Leader Exchange, Labo International Exchange and BFE organizations.

Through international travel, youth develop life skills such as responsibility, self-confidence and leadership. Youth also develop an appreciation and understanding of other cultures through Michigan State University Extension’s 4-H International Programs. Yearlong exchange students say with host families, attend school and become a part of their host family, learning first-hand about culture here in the United States so they can take home and share their experiences. Host families are asked to provide opportunities for their family’s visitors to experience activities that exemplify living in the United States. Some examples may include experiencing a holiday celebration with traditional foods, outdoor activities and even sporting activities.

Local 4-H staff act as program coordinators to help the travelers acclimate to live in the United States. 4-H host families need to have an open mind and a willingness to help students learn about their culture. Many exchange students prepare a traditional meal from their country, bring traditional games and make presentations about their countries to teach their host families and others about their countries. Many families and their exchanges become lifelong friends and stay in contact after the exchange experience.

The month-long summer exchange with Japan is a great way to start experiencing exchanges. Japanese youth travel to Michigan each summer between July and August. U.S. youth have the opportunity to travel back to Japan in a future summer. Through the short host opportunity, families can learn about the exchange system and plan for a yearlong exchange experience.

4-H provides many opportunities for youth to connect and learn about cultures from different parts of the world. Applications and all information can be found at the Michigan 4-H website.

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