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Youth For Understanding (YFU) advances intercultural understanding, mutual respect, and social responsibility through educational exchanges for youth, families and communities. The global YFU network, consisting of partners in more than 50 different countries, is united by the belief that full cultural immersion is the most effective means to gain the skills needed to thrive in an increasingly multicultural, interconnected and competitive global society. YFU has remained a trusted leader of intercultural exchange programs for more than 60 years because of its commitment to safety, reputation for quality, and exceptional support services. Written and Designed by Caroline Henry, Veronica Polinedrio and Matthew Weaver, YFU IES Published in August 2015 by YFU IES Responsible Publisher Kattis Astrom Š Text and graphics 2015 YFU IES, all rights reserved Any reproduction in full or in part, by a non-YFU partner, must mention the title and credit YFU IES as the copyright owner. Contact |

Table of Content We are YFU


Our Mission and Values


Our Promise


Our Story


Open Minds and Hearts


Citizens of One World


Lifelong Learning


Our Network


Contact Us


“YFU is built on faith, on hope for the future, and love as deep and abiding as life itself� Rachel Andresen YFU Founder

We are YFU We live in a global world, and while advancements such as mass media have expanded our horizons, they also make it easier to form harmful stereotypes that encourage violent acts of hate. A growth of mutual respect and social responsibility, forged by cultural understanding, therefore, is needed to overcome destructive stereotypes. YFU offers an educational exchange program dedicated to the development of cultural understanding. When students live in another country, submerged in another culture, they experience tremendous personal growth, positioning them to become world leaders, and at the same time, influence entire communities with their positive impressions. Our brand book lays out how we make a difference for individuals and countries throughout the world. It is a guide to our inspirations, the ways we impact communities, and how we have and will continue to pursue our purpose. It’s our story!

We are YFU


Our Mission and Values Our Mission at YFU is to advance intercultural understanding, mutual respect, and social responsibility through educational exchanges for youth, families, and communities. We live this mission out through our six values.

Learning for Life YFU seeks to instill passion for life-long learning as a path to fulfill our mission. We encourage participants and alumni to use their skills and knowledge to thrive and to contribute wherever they are.

Valuing Diversity: Inclusive and Fair We appreciate differences in people窶馬atural or cultural, innate or learned, personal or formal, and we act accordingly, to contribute to a more peaceful world. We strive to engage a growing base of participants inclusive of that diversity.

Cooperating in International Solidarity YFU national organizations work together as a seamless network of interdependent partners, ever improving worldwide cooperation, mutual support, and trust. YFU continuously develops as a growing community of non-profit educational organizations.


We are YFU

Volunteering: Engaged and Dedicated The volunteer spirit is embodied in the individuals and families who devote their energy, experience, and empathy to ensure the well-being of every YFU student. We believe individual learning and development flourishes in authentic relationships motivated solely by the ideals of YFU.

Promoting Quality, Transparency, Sustainability YFU offers educational exchanges based ion the highest standards of quality and transparency. In all policies and practices, YFU recognizes the responsibility to consider: the well-being of each individual involved with YFU, the economic stability of all partners in YFU, and the best ecological options.

Caring: Personal and People-Oriented YFU values the individuality of each and every participant, and we treat everyone with kindness, respect, and dignity. Our volunteers and staff are focused on our students, families, and communities: preparing, supporting, listening, guiding, challenging, and understanding. We appreciate the many diverse motivations inspiring our participants.

We are YFU


“I did not do it alone. There are people by the thousand who have given of themselves to make this dream come true. It became their dream, too.� Rachel Andresen YFU Founder

Our Promise Adventure and transformation. YFU offers the journey of a lifetime: an adventure that takes you across the globe, reveals the best in people, and enables you to make lifelong connections that will transform the way you see the world. YFU is with you every step of the way, from application to return, and helps you stay in touch with the international community long after returning home. We create a safe, supportive environment in which to explore and gain a deeper understanding of different cultures. As a staff and volunteer-supported cultural exchange network of more than 50 countries, Youth for Understanding helps people broaden perspectives through cultural experiences that offer transformative learning and promote the understanding that we are all citizens of one world.

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YFU Founder, Rachel Andresen

Our Story Youth for Understanding humbly started in the United States in 1951 in an effort to heal the wounds of World War II. John Eberly, an American minister, saw the devastating effects on the post-war German youth and proposed to church leaders that they create a youth exchange program to bring German students to the United States. He hoped that if students lived with a family and attend high school for a year they would regain their hope and rebuild Germany as a democracy. The leadership of this vision was handed off to and brought to life by Dr. Rachel Andresen who officially founded YFU and served as its longtime Executive Director. Her hard work and commitment were recognized in 1964 when Youth for Understanding gained the statues as a non-profit educational organization and again in 1973 when she became a Nobel Peace Prize nominee for her commitment to international youth exchange. The initial exchanges in 1951 established the family living experience and opened the doors for YFU expansion to other parts of the world. Since then, YFU has bridged six of the seven continents, creating a network of 55+ countries who have served over 260,000 program participants as we continue to develop and reach more countries, students, and families

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YFU’s Timeline

Open Minds and Hearts The YFU exchange program establishes relationships and creates tolerance and mutual understanding. Exposing participants to everyday life with a different culture broadens global perspective and develops greater understanding of humanity, reassuring just how much people have in common. Both students and host families create life-long relationships and emotional bonds with people from another culture. The familial feelings formed by the YFU experience correct harmful impressions and stereotypes and enables individuals to live with compassion and understanding.

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“One lesson I remember the most is from a Japanese woman that I saw only once. She talked about the importance of “Ichi-go ichi-e” which means “one time, one meeting.” She told me: treasure every meeting because it will never happen again. You meet people only once, so appreciate it. Don’t let those special moments fly by.” Sarah, Netherlands Exchange Student in Japan

Citizens of One World Through opening minds and hearts, YFU enables learning that transforms lives. Cultural exchange introduces exchange students to the countries and cultures that they know exist but feel distant from. They share in day-to-day life; when seen through fresh eyes, the ordinary becomes extraordinary as host families share their traditions and customs, offering each student a unique, personal version of life. As a result, cultural exchange reinforces our common humanity by underscoring that people everywhere share the same emotions, joys, and challenges, and humanizes diplomacy, taking it beyond the public face of policy and politics. Ultimately, cultural exchange creates powerful interpersonal experiences, increasing tolerance and helping to eliminate stereotypes.

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“A few years ago, I traveled to Europe for work and stayed in a city near Orsi’s house. Isabela went with me, and I left her for a few days under the care of her exchange sister and her natural family. At the end of my work assignment, I met Orsi’s natural family. We may not have had a common language, but love, gratitude, and respect do not need a common language. They are the common language!” Paula Solano Host Mother from Brazil

Lifelong Learning By providing in-depth cultural experience that teaches young adults about the world. Young people may seek out cultural exchange for adventure and the thrill of the unknown, but they end up getting something else entirely out of the experience. They emerge as young adults, more independent and mature, having learned as much about themselves as they have about new cultures. Personal growth is a key benefit of YFU’s core program as students gain valuable life skills. Students rely more on themselves and develop confidence, self-reliance, and better decision making skills. What they learn will last a lifetime.

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“As a YFU volunteer I am often asked, ‘What will I get out of traveling overseas’ or ‘Why should I host a foreign student?’ Those questions do not leave me stumped because, to me, the answer is as natural as breathing. ‘You will gain another family.’” Janelle Holt YFU Volunteer

“Volunteers are basic to YFU, its operation and its continuation. We couldn’t operate our program without volunteers not one day in the year.” Rachel Andresen YFU Founder

Our Network In YFU, our people set us apart. Our network of over 50 countries spread across the world collaborates together in trust and partnership to offer a life-changing exchange program for all members involved. Many of our staff were involved with YFU before working for the organization, whether as exchange students or host parents, and for all, their work is as much a calling as a job. Our growing volunteer team of 12,000 feels the same way as they work to enhance our program and enrich lives. YFU wouldn’t exist without all their efforts. Combined with our dedicated donors and alumni relations, YFU has a welcoming, transparent culture united by helping hands across the world.

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Contact Us Youth for Understanding International Educational Services 2141 Wisconsin Ave, NW Suite D2 Washington, DC 20007 United States of America |

We Are YFU  

Youth For Understanding (YFU) is a non-profit organization that advances intercultural understanding, mutual respect, and social responsibil...

We Are YFU  

Youth For Understanding (YFU) is a non-profit organization that advances intercultural understanding, mutual respect, and social responsibil...