What do teens like Amanda from Brazil, Alexander from Germany, Rosa from Estonia, Ala from Tunisia and Rui from China have in common?
These teens plus 60 others are headed to the United States in August as part of a group of about 3,500 teens from 60 countries, all of whom will be Youth for Understanding (YFU) high school exchange students. These boys and girls will attend high schools around the country while living with local families. These students and many others are still waiting to learn what loving American host families will select them to be their new exchange sons or daughters, and interested families are urged to call today to obtain their letters and profiles.
These teens are hoping for experiences like enjoying a real American barbecue, attending a Halloween costume party, a professional sports event and a high school football game, joining a school sport or music group, and sharing in the fun and responsibilities as real members of their American host families.
It takes many caring people to make their dreams come true: the host families and the volunteers who make this adventure possible. They are essential links in YFU’s chain of friendship that goes back 55 years through 230,000 YFU students who have exchanged world-wide through this non-profit organization which began in Ann Arbor in the early 1950’s.
Today, Youth for Understanding is seeking host families in Coral Springs and Parkland for many bright, hopeful teens like these who will carry on that tradition and form lifelong connections with their host families and communities. Host families provide a place to live and three meals a day plus the encouragement, advice and love to help their new family member through a year in a new home. The students bring their own spending money and health insurance plus the willingness to be a good family member, following family rules and helping out with family responsibilities. YFU provides local representatives who mentor the students and families to make sure it’s a good experience for all involved.
Host families offer a typical family living experience — not a tourist/travel opportunity. They are caring people who offer a slice of real life in America. Families come in all shapes and sizes, ethnicities and ages, with and without children of all ages. They share an interest in teens and other cultures. Some families agree to host a student for the academic year, while others agree to be a welcome family who will get the student off to a good start for up to 12 weeks.
More information is available on the Youth for Understanding web-site at www.yfu-usa.org where families and volunteers can fill out an on-line application. Once you fill out an application, a local representative will call you.
“Despite the differences people face around the world, kids are kids, and these YFU kids are hoping for acceptance, caring, friendship, and opportunities. They are also counting on wonderful people who make those dreams come true,” according to Kilkka.
“Please consider helping a child begin their adventure of a lifetime with a positive start! Sometimes the best “gifts” in our lives are the least expected ones. YFU is looking for the right recipients for these gifts.”
Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs and the rest of South Florida.