Lifelong Learning & Leadership: The virtual exchange program uniquely brings opportunities for lifelong intercultural learning, exposing more youth to their peers around the world. Alumni and volunteers are able to share the lessons of their own physical exchange experiences, while serving as Virtual Facilitators. Further building on YFU’s legacy of running cross-cultural orientations, high performing digital diplomats may be invited to attend online trainings, regional workshops or an international youth summit to enhance their virtual exchange experience and train as Youth Ambassadors.

How Can I Join?


Eligibility is determined via the educators and institutions with which YFU collaborates and through individual competitive application. Some slots are allotted to civil society and educational partners and collaborators.  Individual participants will be selected based on application quality and upon criteria that will bring perspective and balance to each of the virtual classrooms. Detailed requirements for each role are available below.

Application deadline

  • Fall Semester: September 15th (runs Sept 21-Dec 18)

  • Spring Semester: February 10th (runs February 10-April 28)

  • Summer Program: July 15th

  • Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis

  • The application questionnaire may take up to 1 hour to complete.


YFU is pleased to currently sponsor participation scholarships for applicants accepted to the program.

Virtual Exchange Roles


Candidates are self-motivated individuals (students, alumni, and young professionals) active in youth organizations, secondary schools and higher education institutes who have a sense of social responsibility, and who are culturally curious about peers of different backgrounds than their own. Youth who may not have opportunity to study abroad are strongly encouraged to apply. Exceptionally proactive program participants will be considered for award of merit badges and/or a YFU certificate of Cross-Cultural Competence. 


Third Space Semester Program
September 15th for fall semester. February 10th for spring semester
Program runs approx. September 24-December 17 & February 10 – April 28.

Cultural Diplomacy
Indicate interest in upcoming programs below.

Fee & Tuition

There is a non-refundable, non-transferable $25 application fee for the semester program. At this time, youth selected to participate will pay no additional tuition, a program value of $500. The summer programs will be free of charge for all who are selected to partake.


  • Age: 14-35* (*The program is typically grouped for ages 14-24. Per varied international definitions of youth, YFU will accept applications for individuals up to age 35 for placement in an appropriate classroom.)

  • Basic English proficiency

  • Access to mobile device or computer with internet connection; ability to take photos, record voice and video, and upload submissions to Google platform

  • Demonstrate maturity and sincere interest in discussions on identity, culture, conflict, current events, and other module topics

  • Submit assignments and respond to peer entries throughout the entirety of the program

  • Commit 2-3 hours per week for the duration of the Virtual Exchange semester; 4-6 hours per week for the summer program

Youth Ambassador

As part of your continued journey of global citizenship, young YFU alumni are invited to apply to serve as Youth Ambassadors. This is a special opportunity to build upon the lessons of your cultural exchange, advance your technical knowledge, provide peer support, gain applied leadership skills, and contribute to the quality of the virtual exchange program.


Youth Ambassador Picture.jpeg

 September 15th for fall semester. February 10th for spring semester.

Fee & Tuition

There is a non-refundable, non-transferable $25 application fee. The full program fee will be waived for Youth Ambassadors who are selected to partake in the program. This is a scholarship value of $500.


  • Age: 16-25

  • Must be a YFU Alum who exchanged to or from the United States, or

  • Must be a YFU Virtual Exchange Alum who earned the Certificate of Global Competence

  • Intermediate+ English proficiency

  • Access to mobile device or computer with internet connection; ability to take photos, record voice and video, and upload submissions to Google platform

  • Demonstrate maturity and sincere interest in discussions on identity, culture, conflict and current events

  • Submit assignments, respond to peer entries, and lead hangout groups throughout the entirety of the program

  • Commit 2-3 hours per week for the duration of the Virtual Exchange semester

Virtual Facilitator

Are you interested in assisting in a virtual exchange classroom? YFU created the volunteer Virtual Facilitator role to support participants and their educators. Since the introduction of trained YFU Virtual Facilitators alongside Youth Ambassadors, more participants are able to remain active throughout the program. Global teachers are enthusiastic to have their students partake in virtual exchange, but YFU knows they must juggle a myriad of competing academic priorities.  Virtual Facilitators provide basic admin support and valuable encouragement to all within their assigned classroom.  

+ More

Virtual Facilitators are among a select group of pioneers helping to bring intercultural education opportunities to a wider audience, providing invaluable support and feedback for program development. Virtual Facilitators also have the opportunity to increase their own global competencies and 21st century skills – all while interacting with cultures from all around the world.

Training: Virtual Facilitators must complete the self-paced facilitator workshop, review materials, and pass course quizzes required to be prepared for the role. This is approximately a 4 hour commitment prior to the launch of the fall or spring semester. Basic training will include program overview, how to use the platform, and introduction to the curriculum.

Facilitation: Virtual Facilitators will review submitted work within their assigned virtual classroom, and will applaud participants or encourage them to elaborate upon their responses.

Support: Facilitators track individual participant achievement to document eligibility for badging or certificates and provide regular feedback to support ongoing programmatic success.


  • This role is predominantly reserved for active YFU USA volunteers who have undergone criminal background checks and who are current on their Department of State certification. YFU reserves the right to make limited exceptions to include global YFU volunteers or educators from partnering organizations.

  • Facilitators are expected to have basic technological proficiency, inspire respectful debate, and support the mission of the program from semester start to finish.

  • The training, review, support, and feedback portions of this role will require a time commitment of approximately 2-3 hours per week for the duration of the semester.


The call for application will be distributed to active YFU USA volunteers via email. YFU reviews applications and selects facilitators based on qualities most needed to balance the support in classrooms each semester.

Roosevelt High School participant in Des Moines, Iowa, USA.

Roosevelt High School participant in Des Moines, Iowa, USA.

Collaborating Organizations

YFU welcomes collaboration and partnership opportunities with civil society organizations, educational institutions, foundations, and corporations who support programs with emphasis on enhancing leadership skills, building awareness of global cultures, and supporting youth-led social action and civic engagement for their beneficiaries.  


YFU virtual exchanges have taken place through formal educational institutions, such as with public schools and public charter schools. Non-formal educational partnerships with Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) specializing in youth education, leadership, information and communication technology (ICT) skill-building, and humanitarian work help to increase diversity of the participant base. For example, one of YFU’s first virtual exchange cooperations is with the International Institute of Debate in Tunisia, a nonprofit that creates spaces for democratic education and youth participation into the decision-making process, while striving to prioritize the needs of under-resourced youth within the communities. Such partnerships lead us down a path of inclusion to engage persons with disabilities, young women, migrants, minorities, indigenous peoples, and the academically vulnerable.

If you are an organization interested in a collaboration, please complete this brief inquiry form. If you are interested in learning how to sponsor virtual exchanges and international student participants, please see our Support page.

Google For Education

YFU’s Virtual Exchange Initiative is supported by Google, who has provided G-Suite technology to operate the program, providing participants with a global platform for engagement and collaboration through Google Classroom. Read more about it here.