High school foreign exchange is an opportunity that WILL change your life. And it doesn’t matter if you are the student or the host family. Check out this conversation I had with Sierra Fein, Regional Director for ICES (International Cultural Exchange Services) as we talk about the benefits and life-changing capabilities of high school foreign exchange. As host to a German foreign exchange student in high school, I could not wait to dive into this subject with Sierra, who has also hosted and studied abroad herself. If you are looking for a way to “travel” without straying far from home, or perhaps introducing culture to your children, or impacting the life of a teen from another country, or even if you’ve never even considered it, listen to this episode and share it with your friends. The high school foreign exchange opportunity is a once in a lifetime, unmatched opportunity that needs to be experienced!
At a young age, my parents exposed my sister and me to foreign cultures by hosting numerous exchange students in my home town of Gig Harbor, Washington. We had two spare rooms, so we would often host a pair at a time and cherished learning about their traditions. Our Japanese students would teach us origami and how to sing “twinkle twinkle” in Japanese. I remember teaching our students how to roller blade in our driveway. We loved having big sisters and big brothers from another country. By my sophomore year in college, I was ready to jump into my own study abroad in Guayaquil, Ecuador. I lived with a wonderful host family and bonded deeply with my host sisters. After 10 years since I stayed with them, we still keep in touch and look forward to the day we meet again.
In 2012, I began a new cultural adventure, working with ICES (International Cultural Exchange Services) as a local coordinator in my Montana hometown, Bozeman! I successfully found homes for eight exchange students in my first year and welcomed them into this beautiful state. In my second year, I helped make this opportunity possible for 18 students. I feel incredibly lucky that I have friends all across this giant planet who share about their lives and culture. My passion for world travel is invigorated and enhanced by recent travels back to Europe and Brazil over the last couple of years through my organization. Meeting incoming students and international agents that work with us to recruit new brave teens gets me excited to find each of them a wonderful host family to open this door to a global friendship. Opening my eyes to new cultures continues to fill my life with joy and appreciation. If you would like to join me in this life-changing and enriching journey, please contact me today to learn more about becoming a host family for foreign exchange student. We also offer outbound programs for American teens to study abroad in foreign countries and special scholarships available to those that host a student. Open your heart, open your home, become a host family!
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Episode 26 Show Notes
What you will hear in this episode:
Thousands of ambitious, brave, young high school students from across the world come to the United States every year on high school foreign exchange programs. These teens are welcomed by thousands of families nationwide, introducing them into their homes, their traditions, their customs, and learning about the student’s traditions and customs alike. If you have ever been host to a foreign exchange student, you know that the rewards are far greater than any costs, that as a host you learn more than you could possibly teach your exchange student, and that ultimately you are not welcoming just a student, but a new family member. This opportunity is something I strongly believe in, and in this episode you’re going to hear all about why I also believe YOU should be a part of it.
Links and resources mentioned in this episode:
ICESUSA.org (Sierra’s company)
Interested in hosting a student? Check out ICES’s inbound program
Interested in studying abroad? Check out the outbound program
Other high school foreign exchange programs: AYUSA, ASF, EF, Rotary
Thanks to Sierra Fein
Special shout out to Sierra for joining me for this awesome conversation about high school foreign exchange! Thanks again!
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