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4-H goes global

The Issue

Increasingly, Californians are living in many parts of the world and working with people from different cultures. Young people need to prepare themselves to harmoniously work, live and play with people from diverse cultures. To foster respect for others, California youth can benefit from meeting people from other countries and sharing aspects of their own heritage.

What Has ANR Done?

The California 4-H Youth Development Program offers an international exchange with Australia, Finland and Japan through partnerships with youth development programs in those countries. California 4-H members may host an exchange student or live in another country for 1 month. The goal is to give California 4-H members and leaders a firsthand experience with a different culture. Philosopher John Dewey said, “Global citizenship should be grounded in personal experience.” 4-H members and leaders host students during odd-numbered years and live with host families in another country during even-numbered years. Participants share customs and heritage, learn to value diversity and show respect and understanding for others, enhance their communication skills, and improve their own self-understanding. California 4-H hosts between 25 and 40 Japanese students annually. Australia and Finland were recently added. In 2008, 19 4-H members and three 4-H leaders will visit Australia, Finland and Japan.

The Payoff

Opening up the World

Since its start in 1973, the exchange with Japan has broadened the thinking of thousands of students. In 2007, 4-H members and leaders who hosted Japanese students reported they learned new things about Japan (88%) and new things about themselves (85%). Participants identified growth in empathy and concern for others, accepting differences, patience, learning to communicate, cooperating with others, and building self confidence. In surveys, 85% of California host families agree strongly and 15% agree somewhat that they benefited from the exchange.

Clientele Testimonial

A parent: “This was a wonderful experience for us. You grow in ways you didn’t know were even possible. Opening up your heart to a new person (from another culture), makes everyone stretch, grow and increase love and happiness.”
A youth: “The exchange has opened my eyes to a whole new world that until this point has not touched my life. Life-enriching experiences like this one have the ability of reshaping me into someone more aware of the world around me.”
Another youth: “I think this experience has made me more patient and helped me to try my hardest to explain if someone doesn’t understand.”


Supporting Unit:

4-H Youth Development Program
Pat English, California State 4-H Youth Development Program International Exchange Coordinator
(530) 754-8520 or pnenglish@ucdavis.edu