About IFYE

Guiding Principle #4: 

We believe our collective experiences as IFYEs, host families and friends make us family who care about each other
and give us an appreciation of the world-wide definitions of family 

Family. The basic definition of family is a group of one or more parents and their children living together as a unit. When I think of this word, I think about my parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins, extended family and friends. In addition, a sense of belonging, love, and happiness comes to mind. The word "family" may be pronounced differently in many countries, but it shares the same meaning of belonging and taking care of one another. 

When I became an IFYE participant, I was looking forward to living with host families and the idea of getting to know them. However, it became so much more complex. You become and are treated as one of their family members, such as a daughter, sister, granddaughter, cousin, and friend. You are invited into one’s home and become an immediate part of the family, no matter your background. 

South Korea was my first host country that I travelled to and I lived with many host families. I helped my host families cook and attended family events such as birthdays and weddings. My first host family (pictured right) embodied the definition of family to me. One memorable experience I had with my host family was when we bonded over learning to make Kimbap - a Korean sushi roll. The ingredients are simple: cooked rice, dried sheets of seaweed, scrambled eggs, crab sticks, picked radishes, burdock roots, and carrots. The goal is to roll all the ingredients tightly together into a sushi roll and let me tell you, it is a lot harder than it looks. It took several failed attempts to make the perfect roll, which then can be cut into bite-sized pieces. I enjoyed learning the technique from my host mom and sister, who helped me throughout the whole process. During dinner, we all joked about who made which roll, based on the ingredients we used and if the roll was falling apart.

I appreciated learning about the culture and enjoyed spending time with the family. I learned to appreciate the little things, such as cooking dinner together. Cooking together helped bring us closer and I felt a sense of belonging with my host family. 

First South Korean host family. (Pictured Left to Right)
Rachel, Grace (2016 IFYE), host sister, host dad, and
host mother celebrating my host sister’s birthday.

Thailand was my second host country I travelled to as an IFYE participant. One host family had a sister around my age. She asked what I enjoyed doing and I mentioned that I enjoyed exercising. The next morning, my host sister, along with my younger host brother and sister (pictured left), took me on a bike ride around the village to an outdoor fitness gym.

We had so much fun exercising and I even taught my host sister a couple new exercises. During the rest of my stay with the family, every morning we would take a bike ride to the outdoor fitness gym to exercise.  My host sister took an interest in my hobbies and we bonded over it, laughing and enjoying each other’s company.

(Left) In Thailand’s countryside, I am enjoying a bike ride with my host sister and brother on our way to the outdoor exercise gym.

Because of my IFYE experience, I’ve come to the understanding that my host families and I may come from different backgrounds and speak differently, but we are family. We care deeply about one another and I am very thankful for my lifelong family and friendships.

     Rachel Manning
     (Maryland to South Korea and Thailand 2016)

     Go to Mission-Vision-Guiding Principles

     Return to Homepage