Skylar Davis '21 will be spending six weeks in Japan this summer, living with a host family, and attending school with Japanese peers as part of the Youth for Understanding (YFU) program.
Skylar's long-term interest in Japanese culture led her to investigate many different summer program options. She wanted to explore Japanese life and culture on a deeper level, so she sought out an immersive educational opportunity that would allow her to, she said, "experience school life and make friends my age, instead of just going on a guided tour." Several programs involved attending a school, but, she said, it was typically an international school where English was the primary language.
After a lot of searching, she found what she was looking for. A non-profit international organization with partners in over 60 countries, YFU offers educational exchanges for high school students and recent graduates. The YFU global network, as it states on its website, "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." It provides yearlong, semester-long, and six-week summer programs in Japan (among many other countries).
As the Japanese school year extends into the FCS summer break, Skylar will be able to attend a local high school. Skylar will be living in Toyama Prefecture, in the center of Japan, hosted by a family with three children who are 14, 19 and 22 years old.
Although speaking the language was not a requirement for YFU participants, Skylar has been taking weekly Japanese lessons with a private tutor for several years, and she's hopeful that the Japanese she has already acquired will be an advantage. She's ready to "put her skills to the test."
To help cover the costs of the program, Skylar applied for a scholarship. She had to submit three essays along with the application, which she completed in December. In early March, she was thrilled to learn that she'd been awarded a "Japan America Friendship Scholars" scholarship.