Youth exchange

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The term youth exchange denotes organized meetings of young people from different countries for the purpose of international understanding , reconciliation or modern intercultural learning . The terms youth exchange, international encounter or international exchange are also used synonymously. A youth exchange can take place with individual young people (especially in school exchanges ) or groups.


Historically, the youth exchange goes back to the Wandervogel movement of the 1920s and was strongly promoted by politics after the Second World War . Characteristic here are z. B. the establishment of the Franco-German Youth Office , the work camps and long-term peace services z. B. the Service Civil International (SCI), the Intercultural Youth Exchange (ICYE), the International Farm Youth Exchange (IFYE), the Youth Action for Peace (YAP), the international youth community services (ijgd) or the Aktion Sühnezeichen . The German-American exchange, for example through the American Field Service , also plays a role here as part of the re-education . Party-affiliated youth organizations such as the SPD-related SJD - Die Falken maintained their own youth network with politically related groups, the IUSY . The hawks also organized a more informal exchange with non-aligned Yugoslavia since the 1950s.

In the GDR , youth and student exchanges were one of the cornerstones of state youth work in the FDJ . Since major hurdles were placed in the way of traveling, including to socialist countries, the youth exchange represented the only way for many to travel abroad. Such exchanges were often associated with work assignments and were awarded as an award trip.

In the 1970s , the German youth exchange got into a crisis. The Breitenbach study found a growing discrepancy between political claims and outdated methods as well as a certain elitist cohesion in the area. The only ones that stood out positively here were the German Sports Youth , which as a result of the youth movement used all subsidized exchange programs, organized international youth camps and even initiated an exchange with Japan. As a result, the actors and also in the university sector worked intensively on further development.

At the same time, a large number of providers developed, on the one hand in the direction of commercial youth travel , on the other hand towards continuing state-funded measures with an educational focus, Sometimes for special target groups (schoolchildren, disadvantaged young people). There are still a large number of projects within the framework of town twinning . But by no means all of the participants had international understanding as their goal when they travel abroad. Many parents are also aware that experience abroad is important for their children's success in their later professional lives.

Developments since 1990

Postage stamp from 2004: German-Russian youth exchange

Since the 1990s there has been a new upswing in the field of youth encounters, due to the opening of the formerly socialist countries. Against this background, the German-Polish Youth Office was founded in 1991 . Today, language acquisition is increasingly becoming the focus of attention. In February 2006 z. For example, the German-Russian Youth Exchange Foundation was founded in a public-private partnership.

Scientific research on youth exchanges had its first high phase in the 1970s with the so-called "Breitenbach Study" and experienced an upswing again at the beginning of the 21st century. Important lines of research concern the investigation of the long-term effects of youth exchanges, the evaluation of international youth exchanges and the question of improved access to previously underrepresented groups of young people.

See also


  • GJ Friesenhahn: Practical Guide to International Youth Work. Wochenschau, Schwalbach, Ts. 2001.
  • H. Otten, W. Treuheit: Intercultural learning in theory and practice. A handbook for youth work and further education. Leske + Budrich, Opladen 1994.
  • Andreas Thimmel: Pedagogy of international youth work. Wochenschau, Schwalbach, Ts. 2001.
  • Kay Schweigmann-Greve: "Neither East nor West - for an undivided socialist world!" The contacts of the SJD - the falcons in the 50s and 60s to Yugoslavia and their aftermath up to the present day. In: Work - Movement - History . Book II / 2018, pp. 161–181.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Kay Schweigmann-Greve: "Neither East nor West - for an undivided socialist world!" The contacts of the SJD - the falcons in the 50s and 60s to Yugoslavia and their aftermath up to the present day. In: Work - Movement - History . Book II / 2018, pp. 161–181.
  2. Alexander Thomas, Celine Chang, Heike Abt: Experiences that change. Long-term effects of participation in international youth exchanges. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2007.
  3. Wolfgang Ilg, Judith Dubiski: When one goes on a journey. Evaluation results of youth camps and international youth encounters . Wochenschau Verlag, Schwalbach 2015, ISBN 978-3-7344-0185-5 .
  4. Why not? Study on international youth exchanges: access and barriers. Retrieved May 30, 2018 .