Marya Young – Host Mom & International Alumna – Ohio

Hosted student from China

In 1979, a 14-year old girl named Marya from Iran was anxiously awaiting word of her host family in America. Prior to Marya’s departure for the US, there were serious anti-American demonstrations happening in Tehran. Shortly after Marya arrived in the US, the Iran hostage crisis occurred. Because of the escalating political conflicts between Iran and America, many people had a fear of taking a student from Iran into their home.

Like many other times, area reps came forward and agreed to take Marya as a second student in their home until they found a replacement home for Marya. Marya was extremely excited because now she had the sisters she had never had in her life and felt like she was blessed with a very kind family: YFU volunteer host parents Larry and Virginia from Ohio. Things worked out so beautifully between Marya and her new host family that she soon became “permanent.” Following this positive experience, Marya chose America as her permanent home, and she is a proud American citizen by choice today.

It was Marya’s dream as a teenager to someday open her home to exchange students when she had her family. During the last 10 years, Marya and her husband, Jim, and their daughters, Shayda and Shaia, have hosted a number of exchange students from all over the world. They currently are having a fabulous time with their daughter Shirley from China. The wonderful part of this story is that 29 years later, Marya is still in close contact with her host family, and she now not only has sisters, but she is also an aunt. What if Marya had not been selected because we were afraid of political conflicts?

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

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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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