Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or administrator, you can play a roll in developing international awareness in your school! (And Exchange Students can help!)
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””] Youth Exchange provides schools with a concrete means to increase diversity, strengthen instruction, and build programs that imbue students with global competence. Students who engage in Youth Exchange attain a 21st century skill set that includes:
- Improved communication
- Improved problem solving capability
- Greater knowledge and awareness of other cultures, traditions and customs
- Improved sense of self and purpose
- Greater capacity to engage in shared projects
- Improved critical thinking
Excerpt taken from the CSIET Position Statement on the Benefits of Youth Exchange [/perfectpullquote]
In our global economy, the 21st century skill set described above is no longer a luxury – it’s a necessity. But for so many students, study abroad simply isn’t an option. That’s where YOU can help! Exchange students can be a valuable resource for our schools, and with a nudge from you, they can realize a greater purpose while simultaneously boosting your school’s international repertoire! Win/win!
#1 – Invite exchange students to speak
Most high schools work with exchange students, so there’s a good chance you already have students in your community. Contact us to invite an exchange student to speak to your class, club, church, etc. Exchange students have a lot to give – make use of their unique perspective!
#2 – Create mentorship opportunities
Cultural awareness begins at a young age. Do you work with young children in a school or daycare setting? Do you have children of your own? Invite exchange students to share about their country and culture. Their wide-eyed audience will love it!
#3 – Host a student (or spread the word!)
The fact is, more exchange students = more frequent interaction with American classmates. And more interaction leads to greater awareness, empathy, and understanding. Simply put – when we have more exchange students roaming the halls, everybody wins! Consider hosting a student or sharing the idea with your friends and family.
#4 – Encourage one or more students to start an international club
Whether you’re a parent or teacher, you likely know some amazing students who would rally around the idea of an international club. Fuel their fire and help them get off the ground by spurring them on toward meaningful activities. For example: international banquets, international service such as raising money to donate to a relief project or to fund an international author to make a speech, etc.
These are all nice words and good ideas. But in small private high schools, where American students have known each other since kindergarten, it may be rather difficult for an exchange student to make friends easily and become part of their communitiy. At least my son (current exchange student) is struggling in this respect, although he easily finds friends otherwise. It is rather less difficult him to make friends with other foreign students than with natives.
And this is a pity!
Hi Karin, thank you so much for taking the time to read and to comment! I love hearing your input! The beautiful thing about student exchange is that it brings people together – and yet the reality is that PEOPLE are complex individuals, meaning no two exchange experiences will ever be the same! Some students find friends quickly, while others may take more time. Some schools may feel like an instant “fit” for a student, while others may take time to feel like home. The good news is that ALL of this experience will build and define a student’s character and sense of self, even in ways he may not even recognize at the moment. Of course in your specific case, please encourage your son to reach out to his host parents or local coordinator for support when needed! We are always here to help.