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IFYE Nederland
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The IFYE programme and the IFYE Club in The Netherlands

The International Farm/4H Youth Excange (IFYE) programme in the Netherlands started with an exchange with the United States. In 1950 the first Dutch crossed the ocean by boat. They were carefully selected young men and women, with a good knowledge of agriculture and farmlife, well able to present themselves and their country. Taking part in the IFYE programme was a very special and exclusive thing to do in those days and expectations were high from either side.
Stichting Uitwisseling was the executing exchange organisation. This foundation had its roots in a so called ‘folkhighschool’ that gave courses to young farmers and facilitated exchanges with young farmers from other countries. Stichting Uitwisseling had close relations with the professional organisations of the Dutch farmers, which helped in the selection of participants.
In the 50’s the former participants in the IFYE-programme (soon to be called ‘IFYE’s) felt the need to share their experiences with others who could fully understand them: fellow-IFYE’s. They founded an ‘IFYE-Club’. In 1958 the first European IFYE reunion came forth out of the need to maintain the international contacts as well.

In the late sixties exchanges started with Norway and Sweden. Later on Canada, Finland, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Switzerland and France followed. Tryouts were made with Malta, Poland, Thailand, Taiwan but without a lasting exchange as result. In 1991 the first IFYE’s from the Netherlands went to Costa Rica - Central America.

In the IFYE - Club the people who went to the United States felt that they had quite a different - and more intensive - experience than those who went to European countries. Therefore they had their own meetings. This seperation caused difficulties that asked for the foundation of a legally based club. In 1979 the IFYE Club became a real foundation, with statutes and of course equal rights for USA- and Europe IFYE’s.
In the eighties Stichting Uitwisseling felt the workload of the IFYE programme to become a problem: especially compared to the income it generated. Stichting Uitwisseling handed over more and more tasks to the volunteers of the IFYE-Club. They were involved in recruting and preparing outgoing IFYE’s for a start. Later on they had contactpersons responsible for finding hostfamilies for the incoming IFYE’s: groups of 10-16 young people from 5-8 different countries who stayed for periods varying from 6 to 26 weeks. They stayed 3 weeks in every region of the country. The contactpersons kept contact with the foreign IFYE’s when they were in their regions.

The more senior (USA) IFYE’s had their annual reunions and took part in the European and world IFYE meetings. The IFYE’s who took part in an exchange more recently met in their activities for the Dutch and foreign IFYE’s going out and coming in every year.
European conferences were also organised in The Netherlands: in 1984 and in 1994 saw hundreds of foreigners came to our country for a week to meet up with IFYE’s from all over Europe, getting to know a bit of The Netherlands and have a very good time.
These conferences meant a great effort, but also an impulse for the togetherness in the Dutch IFYE Club.

In the nineties the volunteers also organised the preparation- and evaluation meetings for the incoming IFYE’s. Stichting Uitwisseling had reduced its tasks for the IFYE-programme to maintaining the contact with the partnerorganisations abroad, arranging visa for the IFYE’s that needed it and take care of mail and emercency siuations. The organisation still had the final responsibility, which was an important thing.
When the volunteers also had to arrange the visa for the Costa Rican and American IFYE’s, they felt it was better to find another professional organsation that could take over the responsibility for the IFYE programme. Travel Active was prepared to do that. However, in two years it gave the IFYE-programme back to IFYE-Club - that had just decided that there were not enough members anymore who could or wanted to do something substantial for the IFYE programme. For many years already the spirit to become an involved member of the IFYE Club and do something for the programme after taking part in it had declined. A small group of IFYE’s who had been away with the programme long ago, was doing all the work for too many years. When they were ready to write a letter to Travel Active saying the IFYE Club could nog contribute anymore to the execution of the programme, Travel Active sent the letter saying the IFYE programe was not profitable enough to keep executing it. This meant the end of the IFYE programme in The Netherlands, in 2002.

In 2004 the decision was taken to end the IFYE Club foundation as well. Its main aim was to support the programme and that does not exist anymore in our country.
The Dutch IFYE’s still meet: nationally and internationally. The programme brought many bounds of friendship that will hopefully last for many more years.