Mission-Vision-Guiding Principles

Guiding Principle #2:


Cultural immersion, through a two-way exchange, is the foundation of our program to
promote international understanding and global awareness.

Cultural immersion is a great way to celebrate and connect the dots between individuals, traditions, the exchange of ideas, and experiences.

While on my six-month IFYE program to New Zealand, my experiences included:

  • Working and playing with my 16 host families during my IFYE program, sharing ideas with a host sister/teacher at a Maori school, participating in radio talks, raking hay, dressing chickens, and attending the Golden Shears shearing/wool handling championship during my free time at the end of my program before returning to the USA.
    • (Note: A two-week stay in a country where English is one of the official languages is a common procedure and allows one to see much of the country and be part of many families.)
  • Attending and participating in New Zealand’s rural youth leader groups as they were beginning an amalgamation process. (Since I was involved with rural youth leadership here at home, this was a great look at leadership development in another country.)

After returning from my IFYE exchange, much of my sharing has been done through secondary, university, Cooperative Extension teaching, and/or volunteering which included:.

  • My high school students collaborated with schools in other countries.
    • With a school in Finland, we learned about our own geographic areas as well as sharing this information with students, staff, and communities for over 12 years. 
      • Students wrote and shared publications of 80 - 100 pages on common topics in a minimum of two languages. Other schools in Australia, Scotland, Finland, Sweden, and England were often part of this collaboration. These publications were also shared when teaching university education classes here and abroad to those already teaching and those preparing to teach.
      • Educators visited between the Finnish school and mine in the U.S.
      • A Finnish student from our partner school spent an exchange year in a neighboring school to us living with a host family
    • A year-long Fulbright Teacher Exchange allowed my partner in Scotland and me to exchange teaching positions between our schools.
    • School administration approved my taking selected high school juniors to a world student Global Visions Project conference in Australia, combining conference homestays and student group presentations. On this trip, these same students also visited my IFYE host country of New Zealand and one of my previous host families.
  • I have also been a volunteer for over 25 years with a high school international exchange program, including:
    • Coordinating host family stays and worked with the students
    • Coordinating a program for Chinese high school students to learn English and visit colleges in New England
    • Helping to train other volunteers

A two-way exchange allows us to continue to share the initial experience and broaden it as we become greater global citizens. We become more open, tolerant, flexible, adaptable, and confident from participating in international education and cultural exchange opportunities. 

You may never know a place as intimately as those individuals who have lived in a geographic area for a much longer period of time. However, through cultural immersion experiences, such as IFYE, you can begin to understand the cultures of people and countries a little better and share these experiences with others.

Virginia (Ginny) Warner
Pennsylvania to New Zealand (1972)