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Alan Hershey’s Legacy: Be An Exchange Student In Japan

In 1974 Alan Hershey traveled to Japan, as a Youth for Understanding exchange student. He was 16 years old.

The experience had a profound effect. Alan became fluent in Japanese, and remained close to his host family for decades.

The exchange program inspired Alan’s career in international banking. He returned to Asia dozens of times.

Alan passed his passion for world travel on to his children. As Staples High School students, both Caroline and Brian Hershey became YFU Japanese exchange students too.

Alan’s goal was to visit all 192 countries in the world. In 2017 — while exploring an ancient city in Uzbekistan, his 136th country — he died suddenly.

Alan Hershey in 1974, as an exchange student in Japan.

Alan’s children and his wife Jennifer knew the best way to honor him was through YFU.

Several scholarships are available now to high school students, for this summer’s program. The Hershey family hopes area teenagers will apply, so they can meet in person.

The program is very close to the Hersheys’ hearts. Last year, one of the exchange students had roots in Uzbekistan — a remarkable and poignant connection.

For more information, and a link to the application form, click here. The deadline is January 21.

(NOTE: The Hersheys will cover application fees, in the case of severe financial hardship. To contact the family directly, email

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