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About Youth For Understanding South Africa

By YFU

Youth for Understanding (YFU) is a non-profit international educational organisation with partners in more than 60 different countries. It is one of the world’s oldest, largest and most respected intercultural exchange organisations. Since 1951, we have given close to 300,000 students from all over the globe the opportunity to expand their world and discover intercultural opportunities through studying abroad.

In South Africa, we opened our doors in Cape Town in 1994, and we received our first exchange students in 1995. Since then, our organisation has received and sent hundreds of high school learners on our intercultural exchange programmes and we maintain a growing network of alumni and volunteers across South Africa.

YFU is different from other intercultural exchange organisations because of our thorough preparation and programme support, backed by a global team of volunteers. Many of our volunteers and staff have been exchange students or host parents themselves, and we believe strongly in post-exchange programme involvement and development of our programme participants. From the moment you become a part of the YFU family, we are with you every step of the way.

As a non-political and non-religious organisation, YFU values the uniqueness of each and every participant. We appreciate the many diverse motivations inspiring our students, families and volunteers, and provide an inclusive, open-minded and welcoming environment. Diversity, inclusiveness, open-mindedness and a commitment to promoting intercultural understanding and life-long learning are among our core organisational values.

YFU South Africa offers high school exchanges to numerous countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia, ranging from 3 weeks to 1 year in duration. During his/her exchange, each student is placed with a carefully selected host family, attends a local high school, learns the local language and experiences everyday life in a different country and culture.

Besides the regular high school programme, some of our partner countries offer programmes with a specialisation in sports, visual arts, film/movies, fashion, tourism, nature, catering, archaeology, music, drama and dance. In addition, we offer volunteer and university programmes for young adults who have finished high school and want to explore a different culture before, during or after their university studies.

YFU’s academic year or semester programmes are the best way to absorb a new culture and learn a language through immersion and “whole language learning”. YFU’s short programmes, on the other hand, offer you the opportunity to experience a new culture like no tourist could. Most of our short programmes are traditional homestay programmes (some also include school attendance) with a focus on cultural immersion. YFU is a strong and vibrant organisation because of the collective efforts of a broad and diverse volunteer base. YFU volunteers provide essential support to students, families and other volunteers by engaging in activities such as counselling, student and host family support, conducting orientation camps and training seminars for YFU programme participants, and helping us grow our network of volunteers and partner organisations.

In addition to our exchange programmes, YFU promotes intercultural understanding, life-long learning and non-formal education through our ‘Coloured Glasses’ workshops. The aim of Coloured Glasses workshops is to allow young people to examine their attitudes towards their own cultures as well as other cultures. They create a deeper understanding of issues such as culture and identity, intercultural communication, stereotypes, prejudice, discrimination, inequality and human rights. The workshops can be conducted with high school learners, youth clubs, university students or at the workplace and can be adapted to each group’s specific needs.

For more information about our organisation and our programmes, please visit our website https://yfu.org.za/or follow us on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter @YFUSouthAfrica. 

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