This year marks the 35th year of AYA, and at this time of Thanksgiving, we want to take a moment to say thank you to everyone that has helped us reach this milestone. It is an honor to share the AYA experience with such a generous and kind network of host families, local coordinators, high schools and communities, and look forward to many more years of continued success as we work cooperatively to bring the world together. It is our pleasure to take this opportunity to express our most sincere thanks and appreciation to all of the important people and institutions that support our mission.
First, foremost and from the bottom of our hearts, thank you to our generous volunteer host families. Our volunteer host families are truly the heroes of our program and the heart and soul of our mission to bring the world together. Our host families are extraordinary, compassionate, hardworking people, who, with open minds and generous spirits open their hearts and homes to young people from all over the world. They demonstrate the very best of the United States and the values that Americans so dearly cherish. For over 35 years, our families have shown tens of thousands of international students and their families that Americans are kind, welcoming and inclusive people. Thank you, a million times over, for supporting cultural exchange and choosing to be part of our AYA family.
A resounding thank you to our magnificent network of Local Coordinators across the country. The work that our local coordinators do to promote international education and support our participants is incredible and vital to AYA’s ongoing success. The energy, commitment and passion that these incredibly talented and thoughtful individuals put into the AYA mission every single day is inspiring. Our local coordinators change lives for the better. They build enduring connections. Each and every one of our Local Coordinators is a conduit for change and peace that begins in his or her local community and spreads across oceans and countries. Friendships and families have blossomed around the world thanks our field staff network. We are awed and grateful that they have chosen to be a part of our AYA family and appreciate all of their hard work.
Thank you to our schools, administrators and teachers for understanding the importance of cultural exchange and international education and the value that international students bring to classrooms across America. We are grateful to every school that welcomes AYA students and to educators who believe in the program and seek to promote the benefits of international exchange to their student body and administrations as a whole. We are honored to work with you to improve the educational, professional and cultural outlook for high school students in the U.S. and abroad.
We offer a heartfelt thank you to our generous donors who help fund the important work we do. The support that AYA, a not-for-profit 501c3, sponsored by the AIFS Foundation, receives from donors helps provide important scholarships to American students, many of which are from underserved populations, have the opportunity to study abroad and grow their world perspective. Donations to the AIFS Foundation empower the AIFS Foundation to change the lives of thousands of people each year with improved access to international education and opportunities for our young people of the world to better understand each other. .
Thank you to our amazing staff at headquarters and diligent board of directors. These folks work tirelessly to ensure our programs run smoothly and in compliance with government regulations, and they do so with enthusiasm and unwavering commitment to the AYA mission. We are fortunate to work alongside talented professionals like Associate Director of Student Support Ginny Clark, a terrific example of the spirit of our program. Thank you to all our hard-working staff for helping to ensure the safety, support and success of participating students, families and schools.
Finally, thank you to the brave and brilliant AYA, FLEX and YES students, who make the work we do so rewarding and fun every day. Thank you to the American students who welcome international students as brothers, sisters, friends and family members. The friendships formed between these young people have the potential to positively influence future global relationships. Thank you to the exchange students that follow their hearts and bring so much perspective and energy to our American homes, classrooms and communities. We are so humbled by your open hearts and minds; we are so inspired by your thirst for knowledge and adventure and we are thankful that you chose AYA.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!