The West Virginia University Extension Service is looking for host families to help Japanese youths exchange cultures and ideas this summer as a part of the States’ 4-H International Exchange Program.

The States’ 4-H International Exchange Program is a month-long opportunity that invites West Virginia families to host youths ages 12 to 17 and one adult visiting from Japan from about July 21 to Aug. 18.

Qualifying families hosting a youth must have a child age 10 to 18 who lives within the home. Families will be paired with a Japanese youth of the same gender who is within two years of age of the host child.

According to WVU Extension Service Civic Engagement and Global Education Specialist Denis Scott, the summer program is a mutually beneficial opportunity for both host families and Japanese visitors.

“While it’s exciting for the Japanese youths to come and experience American life and culture, the same often happens for host families,” said Scott. “Children of host families learn a lot about Japanese culture and language, and some great, lifelong friendships and special cross-cultural bonds have been created as a result of this program.”

Scott added that the States’ 4-H International Exchange Program is unique because unlike most exchange programs, the group only stays with host families for a month, and host families have the assistance of WVU Extension staff to get them through.

“Host families will be supported through every step of this process and get answers to any questions they might have along the way,” said Scott. “It’s a great program for families to try as a test run for a longer hosting program.”

Upon their arrival in the United States, Scott said the Japanese delegation will tour WVU and participate in various orientation activities to get them acquainted with the university and their new surroundings.

Host families will be required to attend a kick-off ceremony in Morgantown within the first week of the Japanese group’s arrival. At that time the visitors will meet their hosts and begin the exchange experience. Extension will also provide host families with training materials to help adjust to possible language barriers and communicate effectively.

The month-long program will conclude with a special celebration in Morgantown during the program’s final week.

The West Virginia 4-H exchange program recently won an award at the States’ 4-H International Conference for high-quality programming based on feedback gathered from former Japanese exchange participants, Scott explained. He added that West Virginia is consistently evaluated highly by the Japanese students due to the scenery, hospitality and sense of community the state offers.

Families are provided with overnight accommodations for each of the required Morgantown orientation events. The exact dates for arrival and departure will be determined soon pending airfare purchases. Other than food and lodging, there is no additional costs to host families during the summer homestay experience.

Placements for this unique opportunity are still available. For more information, or to apply to be a host family, contact Denis Scott at or 304-293-8665.

The WVU Extension Service is a primary outreach division of West Virginia University. With offices in each of the state’s 55 counties, Extension faculty and staff develop and deliver programs in leadership, rural and community-based economic development, youth development, workforce development and health education.



CONTACT: Cassie Thomas, WVU Extension Service

Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.