4-H—Our Community, Our Country, and Our World
4-H is more than the fair, club meetings, camps, and cultural trips to other states; 4-H prepares youth to become world citizens.
One area not widely heard about is the 4-H International Programs founded in 1948 shortly after World War II. There are more than 90 countries in South and Central America, Asia, the Pacific, Africa and Europe that host youth, with Wisconsin having been involved since 1951.
The International 4-H Youth Program coordinates a three to six-month Representative Program, a six week summer Ambassador Program, and a 4-H/Japanese Exchange.
In the 4-H/Japanese program Wisconsin 4-H families host 50-65 Japanese, Korean, and Latino youth each summer for one month, and the 4-H/Japanese program has a reciprocal exchange for roughly 20 Wisconsin 4-H youth, who travel to the home country of the exchange student they hosted.
Violet Schwersenska, a Waushara County 4-H participant, will have the opportunity to travel to Japan and spend a month as an exchange student this summer.
If you ask Violet’s family they are surprised to find themselves on this journey.
“Our family in 2013 was not seeking out an exchange program, but decided we could fill a need when an email request came from the 4-H International Programs,” said Violet’s mother, Amy Boocher.
Violet added, “I was really nervous about hosting a girl my age from Japan, but when I met her, I knew it was going to be a great month. We laughed a lot and didn’t really know how to communicate at first, but within a few days we were talking with hand gestures and Google Translate. Throughout the month Yui Asahi stayed at my home, we became just like sisters. She learned a lot about the American culture, and I learned a little about the Japanese culture.”
During Yui’s visit, Violet’s father, Tim Boocher, recounted an experience Yui had: “One night there was a power outage from a large storm that went through we were without power for a couple of days. During that time, Violet, Yui and a couple friends camped out in the backyard. Overhearing Yui’s amazement with all the stars in the night sky while camping and at the Wild Rose outdoor movie made me grin, that something as simple as the stars could leave a lasting impression.”
“The month of August flew by and when we took Yui to Madison to send her off, Yui and Violet were crying not wanting to say good-bye. It was a powerful experience,” he added.
Since hosting Yui, Violet has embarked on a journey to do a reciprocal 4-H exchange to Japan this upcoming summer.
“In a way, it’s difficult to help Violet go half way around the world as a teenager, yet we have seen such growth in selflessness, communication and courage through the 4-H International Program, that my husband and I decided we would support her as long as she committed to raising the funds and giving back to the community,” said Amy.