Paul & Lolly Scannell – Host Parents – Connecticut

Hosted 21 students from around the world, including Yemen

Paul and Lolly Scannell have been a host family for Youth For Understanding for more than 20 years. In that time, their family has hosted 21 students from all over the world. The Scannell’s current host son is Abdulla from Yemen, who is a part of a YES program that was launched to build bridges of understanding between the United States and countries of the Arab and Muslim world.

Can you share some of the best memories and unexpected surprises from your hosting experience?

“All our host children have been a pleasure to have— we have so many fond memories and funny stories to share. Last year our student from Germany created a CD with pictures and music documenting his exchange experience from preparation back home to good-byes in the U.S. This project obviously took a lot of time and energy to complete, and it made us feel special to see what a difference we made in this young person’s life. It is very rewarding to see how students grow up and mature during this experience. We hear a lot of “Thank You’s” from their natural families for all the love, support and help we’ve given, for being a real family to students and treating them as our own children.”

“One of the unexpected surprises: seven of our former host students traveled to the U.S. from all over the world to throw a surprise party for us. It was great having them back! Some stayed for a couple of months and we had a fun time.”

“With hosting, you actually get to do so many things that you would not ordinarily do. Just a couple of weeks ago we went to New York, and we are taking Abdulla and will be meeting other exchange students from Sweden and France in the Bahamas for our son’s wedding in a couple of months.”

What advice would you give to all host families?

“Enjoy every minute and every opportunity of this experience. Treat the students as you would treat your own children; they are not tourists, they need love, support and guidance. Each student is different, with a unique personality, and they are teenagers—so be patient and understanding. Hosting is a wonderful experience. Have fun and learn all you can from it.”

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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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