Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation


Agriculture, Food and Environment


Family Sciences

First Advisor

Dr. Amy Hosier

Second Advisor

Dr. Ronald Werner-Wilson


This study explores how hosting an international exchange youth influences families. Participants in the study took part in a four-week summer exchange by hosting a middle school aged Japanese youth through the Kentucky 4-H/Labo program. Labo is a Japanese club program that encourages youth to learn about American culture through international travel. As society becomes more globalized, the skills and abilities associated with international travel are increasingly important (Anderson, Lawton, Rexeisen & Hubbard, 2006). Hosting international youth through exchange programs is one method of developing these skills and abilities. This qualitative study uses thematic analysis to analyze three primary data sources. These were in-depth, semi-structured interviews (n = 20), program evaluation, and lifeline interview methodology graphs. This study explored the gap left by prior research by being concerned with families who have hosted an exchange youth for a short period of time. Previous research has focused on long-term exchanges, individuals and Americans traveling abroad. From this analysis, seven major themes were identified. These include (a) challenges of communication, (b) anxiety of program participants, (c) belief in a privileged experience, (d) personal growth, (e) familial relationship development, (f) feelings of loss upon departure, and (g) increased appreciation of home and foreign cultures. Two outlying themes of (a) father made a surprising contribution to hosting the exchange youth and (b) idealization of Japan were included for the additional context of understanding they provided. These findings offer insights into the efficacy of these programs as well as how they benefit the family. The findings, implications for program managers and potential areas for future research are discussed.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)