Degree Name

MA in International Education

First Advisor

Sora Friedman


This research project is a case study that examines the post program involvement of former Youth Exchange and Study (YES) students that were placed in the United States for an academic year through the American Institute for Foreign Study (AIFS) Foundation high school program, Academic Year in America (AYA). This study explores the perspectives and narratives of former YES students with a specific focus on their involvement in community service and volunteerism since they returned to their home country. Qualitative and quantitative research methods were used to gather data, which included a comprehensive survey, interviews with former students and AYA staff, as well as a review of relevant research and industry perspectives. The findings exposed a strong and diverse presence of community service and volunteerism activity with the group of participating alumni. Involvement included larger scale efforts through the YES Alumni networks to small yet impactful initiatives run by the former students themselves. This case study also revealed larger discussion questions regarding program evaluation, the definition of community service, and exchange student impact. The details of this case study can be used toward the efforts to improve program evaluation methodology, as well discuss the sustainability of the YES program in the future.

Key Words: J-1 Secondary Exchange Visitors, Youth Exchange and Study, Youth Development, Community Service, Service Learning, International Students


Service Learning


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