Deryl Waldren, K-State Research and Extension 4-H youth development specialist based in northwest Kansas, is working in Japan in July on behalf of 4-H International Exchange Programs – and the youth who benefit from them.
Waldren has extensive experience with international travel, youth development and exchanges. He currently serves as chair of the States' 4-H International Exchange Program Board.
In Japan, he will be collaborating with S4-H president, Yoko Kawaguchi, from Seattle, Wash., and three Japanese exchange partner organizations, Labo, Lex and Utrek) o further international youth development.
According to Waldren, the U.S.-Japanese 4-H Exchange Program offers cultural immersion experiences and has been praised for teaching language skills. Students participating in the program also cite living with a host family as a valuable educational experience.
The U.S.-Japanese Exchange Program was founded in 1972 and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, he said.
It is open to youth ages 12 to 18, and has provided international educational opportunities for more than 7,500 U.S. youth to date.
More than 48,000 American families have provided host homes for international youth. In 2011, for example, 740 U.S. families hosted international youth exchange students; 66 U.S. teens traveled abroad, he said.
"The goal is to help in the development of a global perspective and to help youth find their personal sense of place in it," Waldren said.More information about educational opportunities in Kansas 4-H, the U.S. and larger world is available online at http://www.kansas4-h.org/ and at K-State Research and Extension offices throughout the state.