About YFU

Youth for Understanding is an international youth exchange organization that promotes intercultural exchange programs between South Africa, Namibia and the world. YFU South Africa is a registered non-profit, volunteer-driven organization and has been in existence since 1995. In 2023 YFU expanded its programmes to Namibia. We form part of a world-wide family of YFU national organizations with offices in more than 50 countries. Although each national organization is , all YFU partners are bound and committed to specific international agreements and standards related to their exchange programmes.

For more information about YFU South Africa, visit our Facebook and Instagram pages, or contact us via email or WhatsApp. If you are looking for updates on our activities in Namibia, check out our YFU Namibia Facebook and Instagram accounts!

YFU Mission Statement

YFU advances intercultural understanding, life-long learning, global competencies, mutual respect, and social responsibility through transformational educational exchanges for generations of youth, families, and communities, supported by dedicated volunteers and professional staff.

Our History

The first Youth for Understanding national organization was founded in the USA in 1951. The initial purpose of YFU was to bring young post-second world war Germans to the USA to experience democracy by living with American host families and attend high school for one year.

The idea spread from there, and today YFU is one of the largest and most respected international exchange organizations.

In South Africa, the organization opened its doors in Cape Town in 1994, and we received our first exchange students from Germany in 1995. Since 1995, YFU South Africa has received and sent hundreds of high school students on our 6-week, semester or 1-year exchange programmes. We expanded our activities into neighbouring Namibia in 2023 and conducted our first cultural exchange to Namibia in February 2024.

Quick Facts about YFU

  • We offer short term and long term exchange programmes to 15-18 year old high school learners (there are also 18+ programs available).
  • We are a registered non-profit organization under the South African Companies’ Act.
  • Our programs are based on sound educational principles.
  • We adhere to the YFU International Basic Standards and Quality Criteria.
  • We select students and host families irrespective of racial, cultural, gender or language background.
  • We believe strongly in post-exchange programme involvement and development of our former exchange students (returnees).
  • We aim to establish and maintain professional relationships with our partner schools, the backbone of our organization.
  • YFU South Africa is governed and supervised by an independent Board of Directors, all of whom are volunteers for YFU.
  • We are active in various regions and provinces, including in neighbouring Namibia, with our national head-office situated in Cape Town.
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