Youth gain global citizen skills through 4-H exchange cultural immersion experience

Michigan 4-H provides opportunities to travel to Japan through the 4-H International Exchange. The deadline to apply for the summer 2016 program is Dec. 15, 2015.

Japanese Labo party members welcoming student. Photo by Kaitlyn Nguyen.

Japanese Labo party members welcoming student. Photo by Kaitlyn Nguyen.

Michigan youth can build global citizenship skills through the Michigan 4-H exchange to Japan during summer 2016. The Japanese trip is a cultural immersion experience living with a host family for one month. Participants experience the daily life of a Japanese family providing a richer experience than traveling as a tourist.

The Michigan State University Extension 4-H Youth Development vision for global and cultural education is having young people develop an understanding of themselves and other people; a sense of connection with, respect for and responsibility to the world; and an ability to serve and lead with wisdom, care and humility. The Michigan 4-H Backpack to Adventure: Youth Leaders in a Global World curriculum identifies cultural competence as one of five competencies youth need to be a youth global leader. This competency includes learning to work and live comfortably with people from diverse cultures, knowing about and appreciating the culture of other people and valuing multiple points of view.

According to a recent Michigan exchange delegate, “The exchange opportunity shows the opposite side of biased views. As you encounter more people, you realize that they aren’t talking to you because you’re an ‘American’ and can speak English, but because they want to learn more about you, yourself, rather than your home country. I remember the Labo welcome party so vividly, and how other people, older and younger than me, were excited to meet someone that wasn’t that much different from them. In my life, I have never experienced anyone so ecstatic to meet me. Another highlight was Labo camp which was the best three days of my life. Struggles through language barriers did make for great memories and a learning experience for myself and my host sister.” This delegate especially appreciated the opportunity to interact with and get to know her host parents and host sister.

States’ 4-H International Exchange Program, located in Seattle, Washington, is the organization Michigan 4-H works with to manage the exchange. The dates for the four-week trip for 2016 are July 13-Aug. 11. The eight-week trip, including an intensive language program, is June 15-Aug. 11. The cost is $1,990 plus airfare, currently estimated at $1,600-$2,500. A $1,000 deposit is due on the Dec. 15, 2015, deadline to apply.

Michigan 4-H offers a Japanese hosting opportunity in addition to the travel exchange program. Those that have hosted a summer exchange student can receive a $100 scholarship through States’ 4-H for each time they have hosted (up to $300) and if they host an academic school year student, a $1,000 scholarship. In addition, 4-Hers can apply for a 4-H Foundation International Exchange Scholarship. Hosting prior to travel is not required. For more information on all Michigan 4-H exchange opportunities, visit the Michigan 4-H International Exchange Programs website.

Information on the outbound Japanese exchange including application forms is available on the Japan Summer Outbound Exchange website, or contact me, the Japanese outbound coordinator, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). The deadline to apply is Dec 15. Don’t miss this great opportunity. This international exchange is a chance to build friendships and skills that that last a lifetime! 

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