Brad & LaDonna Stuart – Host Parents & Volunteers – Michigan

Hosted students from China and Germany

When Brad and LaDonna Stuart of Homer, Michigan, welcomed Kanjicai (“Brock”) into their home for the 2006-07 school year, they never dreamed they would be eating dinner with his natural family in Dong Guan, China in less than a year.

Brock invited the Stuarts to join him in China upon his return home. “Between everything I read in the newspaper and everything I’ve heard about China, I have to admit I was pretty scared,” said LaDonna. “But Brock lived with us for almost a year and shared our culture, and I wanted to share his. What we discovered in China was totally unexpected and wonderful! There is a certain patience among the people, and so much beauty in China.”

The Stuarts embarked on their 18-day journey in August 2007, and their trip made front-page news at home. The Index, which serves the Homer and Lichfield area in Michigan, featured an article chronicling their travels to the Temple of Heaven, Great Wall of China, the emperors’ tombs from the Ming Dynasty, and the site of the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. LaDonna, who never passes up a chance to promote YFU, was happy to talk with reporter Pete Cunningham and share the joy of her cultural exchange experience.

“The people were very, very friendly and everybody just couldn’t do enough for us. We were treated like a king and queen,” she told the Index. “A lot of people there have never seen an American, so we were kind of like celebrities. Everybody would just do all they could for us even if they had very little.” Brad and LaDonna have hosted 15 YFU students from six different countries.

As volunteer area representatives, they tirelessly promote YFU throughout their community. LaDonna agreed to the interview with the caveat that there would be a mention of the need for host families in Homer, and the article concluded with information on how to learn more about becoming a host family.

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About Youth For Understanding USA

Youth For Understanding (YFU) advances intercultural understanding, mutual respect, and social responsibility through educational exchanges for youth, families and communities. The global YFU network, consisting of partners in more than 60 different countries, is united by the belief that full cultural immersion is the most effective means to gain the skills needed to thrive in an increasingly multicultural, interconnected and competitive global society. YFU has remained a trusted leader of intercultural exchange programs for more than 60 years because of its commitment to safety, reputation for quality, and exceptional support services. Backed by a global team of volunteers, YFU provides cultural education and guidance to all participants. Selected to administer more government and corporate scholarships than any other high school exchange program, YFU is the only organization awarded full-listing for J-1 inbound, outbound and short term exchange by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET). Through creating global learning opportunities, YFU has promoted international understanding and world peace to more than 250,000 students and their host families. Thousands of parents across the globe trust YFU with their teenagers every year, and thousands of students every year choose YFU to help them discover their inner selves.
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