Iowa 4-H Japanese Youth Exchange Program Seeks Host Families 

January 11, 2023, 2:37 pm | Madeleine Bretey-Smith, Elizabeth Settles Huffman

Summer 2022 Japanese Exchange Delegation.AMES, Iowa – Cultural immersion is a hands-on way to learn and understand a different culture or viewpoint quickly and meaningfully. The 2023 Iowa States’ 4-H Exchange program is seeking host families for 12 Japanese youth delegates who will visit Iowa this summer.

States’ 4-H Exchange program with Labo International Exchange and the Institute for Language Experience, Experiment, and Exchange hosted 12 Japanese youth, ages 12-18, during summer 2022. Japanese youth stayed with host families in Iowa for three and a half weeks to focus on daily life in Iowa households.   

“In 4-H Youth Development, we enjoy learning by doing. This program has been a great benefit to the delegates we have hosted in Iowa and will be to those sent from Iowa to other countries as well. We hope the delegates will return to their homes with a widened perspective and excitement for global collaboration,” said Madeleine Bretey Smith, 4-H civic engagement and leadership coordinator with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

States’ 4-H Exchange is a youth international exchange program that has been around since 1972. Based on a complete cultural immersion model, youth are matched with a volunteer Iowa family who wants to share their life with an international visitor. Iowa 4-H joined the program for the first time in 1975. Since then, Iowa 4-H has hosted youth occasionally. 

In 2022 the Klimesh Family from Spillville, Iowa, hosted Karen, a Japanese youth, through the States’ 4-H Exchange/Iowa 4-H partnership.

“We had Karen, and she was such a joy! We still stay in contact through mail and social media. The experience was great. She taught us a lot. We hope to do it again next year and look forward to seeing her again. She became family in such a short time,” said Georgia Klimesh.

Interested in hosting a delegate for the 2023 Iowa States’ 4-H Exchange program? For more information about the international exchange programs with Iowa 4-H, please contact your ISU Extension and Outreach county office or visit the Iowa 4-H website at

Sharable photoSummer 2022 Japanese Exchange Delegation

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