Jim and Martha Fields – Volunteers & Host Parents – Virginia

Duties: Evaluating student applications, other activities

Soon after retiring, Martha responded to an ad in the local newspaper and began volunteering for YFU. Today, Jim and Martha Fields have a combined 17 years of volunteer service to YFU.  She enjoys reading and evaluating student applications and believes her efforts help “to make a peaceful world.”

“Exchange gives kids a good idea of the U.S. rather than what they just see on TV”. She also enjoys interacting with other volunteers and learning about their varying backgrounds. Jim learned about YFU through Martha and began his volunteering as an interviewer. He looks forward to talking and connecting with prospective students during the interviews and hearing their varying views on diversity, which ranges from “insightful to occasionally humorous.”

Jim and Martha went from being volunteers to later becoming YFU host parents. Martha recalls, after working on some profiles, thinking “this is a neat kid; I wouldn’t mind having him live with us”. She brought some student profiles home for Jim to look through and they picked their first student to host. Martha recalls, “I realized, after picking up our first exchange student from the airport, how extraordinary it was that the student’s parents had entrusted their kid to us.” Since hosting their first exchange student, Jim and Martha have hosted several permanent and temporary students and they remain in contact with most of their former students.

Through their experience with YFU, Jim and Martha see the value and impact of homestay exchange programs. “It opens your eyes to a new view of the world, it builds confidence and it gives kids more self-assurance and awareness.”

Would you like to share your YFU Story? Please submit stories and pictures to marketing@yfu.org.


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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