In addition to the simple FUN of hosting, student exchange serves a far bigger purpose. These passionate students, who are so eager to experience our heritage and to share their own, can be good medicine for a world torn by terror.
In recent weeks, all eyes have turned to Rio and the Olympic games. But as we cheer on Phelps, Biles, and Ledecky, many of us quietly hold our breath: rumors of a potential terrorist threat are woven through the press and shared on social media. The result? FEAR. “International,” a word once celebrated as exciting and elite, now feels scary and oppressive.
And yet – WE have a choice!
If we want to break down prejudices and build understanding (even in the face of terror), RELATIONSHIP is the most likely antidote! REAL relationships with other human beings! This is where student exchange comes in! Welcoming an international student is a simple, tangible way to teach our children that different is NOT dangerous. When students engage with a classmate from Germany or Thailand, they begin to see the world differently. They become more likely to judge the country based on their friendship (and not the other way around).
In short: exchange students provide a much-needed way to let “global” be GOOD again!
[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Bringing exchange students into the school adds perspective to the classroom. I wish more of our kids could go on exchange themselves, but for most that’s just not an option right now. The only way they can get exposure to the world and develop global awareness is to have people from different countries come to them. In my classroom, we talk about global issues, which require a different perspective. And when students learn alongside international students, they start thinking about the world differently.
– Erik Ostergren, IE host family and Dean of Students at Westside High School in Houston, TX[/perfectpullquote]
Help be part of the solution. The effects are far greater than you would ever expect.
Begin your journey at www.IE-USA.org