International exchanges: Global citizens in the making

Learn what valuable lessons youth acquire by traveling on an international exchange.

“What I loved about the trip was the opportunity to meet so many different people. I met not only people from all over the U.S., but also from all over Finland. I got to meet people with many different backgrounds and I feel connected to people who I never even known existed before this trip.” – From a 4-H member who traveled to Japan in 2011.

“I have learned so much and experienced some of the best things. All of the memories I have collected and the friends I have made and the education I received is something I could not have received in a classroom; I made long-life friends.” – From a 4-H member who traveled to Japan in 2011.

These responses are typical of youth who have traveled to another country through an exchange program. These quotes touched on the topics that many youth repeat when they talk about their trip – they are enthusiastic and passionate about their experiences.

Each person who goes on an exchange has different experiences and each one is valuable. But there are outlooks that are common to all travelers. Every traveler says they found their trip to be a “life-changing experience.” They gave various insights into how they have grown because of the exchange once they had time to think the experience through.

Some common observations were that they felt more comfortable in new situations and they learned to ask questions when they didn’t understand something. They learned about the communality across cultures and that differences can be overcome. Their self-esteem grows and they feel more confident in taking leadership roles.

People who have traveled internationally pay more attention to world news, economics and government. Not with a critical eye but with compassion and sensitivity in finding out how to understand and find solutions to world issues.

Those that travel international will always see themselves as global citizens.

For more information on Michigan 4-H international exchange programs, click on the hyperlink or visit the Michigan 4-H website.

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