Student Arrivals: What to Expect In the First Few Days

Students are arriving from all over the world and will continue to do so steadily for the next few weeks. As a host parent this is an exciting time of year. Receiving a student quells the anticipation of the program’s beginning, and marks the beginning of a new relationship, one that will leave hosts with memories and experiences that they will never forget.

But as exciting as this time can be for the families, it can also be a stressful time for the students. Imagine being transposed from a place that you have known your entire life, and a culture that has helped shape you into the person you are, to a place that is entirely new, a culture that is predominately alien, and where everyone speaks a different language than you are accustomed to hearing on a daily basis. And imagine doing it all after a twelve- to twenty-hour flight. Suffice to say, the first few days can be a bit jarring, but with a little planning and foresight hosts and students can help one another adjust to the program. These simple reminders can help both students and parents in the early weeks:

1)      Travel is Exhausting: Do not be surprised to meet a very tired kid at the airport. Both the student and the parent should take things slow the first few days if at all possible. In many situations time is short as students and families prepare for school, but if there is even a day to relax, show the student around, let him or her become acclimated to the surroundings, and above all do not bombard your student with new faces. Immediate family during the first few days is enough.

2)      Your Student is Your New Son or Daughter. Do Not Treat Your Student Like a Guest: The longer you play the role of a host or hostess, the longer it will take a student to acclimate or adjust to your home. If, however, you assume the role of the parent, and treat your student like the son or daughter he or she should be, then it will be easier to keep from disrupting your home, children, and the student’s academic life. You will both need time to adjust to this change, and it will not happen overnight.

3)      Speaking English Daily Will Be New for Your Student: Thought our students learn English and study it for years before coming to the U.S., speaking it on a daily basis and engaging in conversation is another matter entirely. Most students speak their native language in their home country, especially during informal conversations such as the ones that will take place with friends at school or with host family members. Give the student time to adjust to using English. Be prepared to answer questions. Speak slowly if your student does not understand. If you are patient and helpful your student will be speaking like a native in a matter of weeks.

4)      Relax and Have Fun: This is an occasion for your student and your family to try new things. Your student will want to see as much as possible, and, within reason, why not take the opportunity to see and do the things you have always wanted to do with your family? Go to attractions in your area, plan road trips when school is out, go on a vacation to a new place and bring your student with you. Try to see and do everything you can. Your family and your student will thank you for it. And when the program ends, you will have an international family.

Last but not least, remember that ISE is always here to help the student and the family; someone is always just a phone call away. The exchange program has rewards beyond what you could expect, and communication is the key. Good luck to our families and students. We wish you all a happy and healthy school year.


A Host Mother Shares Her Hosting Experience

When asked “what was the most rewarding aspect of the exchange program?”the majority of host parents will say “the memories,” or “making new friends.” For these fortunate volunteers, the hosting experience was a footbridge to broader and greater experiences, an occasion that enriched their lives while providing an opportunity for educational and cultural exposure to the students they hosted.

It is also popular to hear a host say “I decided to host not really knowing what to expect, but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.” I many cases, their student becomes a part of the family, and after a few months they become so inextricably intertwined in the family’s day-to-day life that the family cannot foresee having to say goodbye at the end of the program.

Susan Cheng and Helene

These instances are not rare, and neither are they overlooked; they are the kinds of relationships we like to hear about at International Student Exchange, and thanks to Susan Cheng of Texas, and her students, Helene and Emilie, we have another to add to what has become a long and brilliant list.

Susan was nice enough to share with us a letter written by one of her students, and a story about a special gift that will ensure she never forgets what hosting a student has done for her and for her family. Please take a moment to read Helene’s letter, in which she thanks Mrs. Cheng for the the year they spent together:


“Miss Emily arrive with a handmade recipe book with decorated cardboard covers and giant rings to hold the pages. She had converted all of her favorite Norwegian recipes to cups and teaspoons…from the metric so that I could enjoy making (or she could make for me) some of her favorite foods.”

We at ISE would like to say thank you to Susan, Helene, and Emilie for sharing their story with all of us. We wish all of you out there reading, hosting, and living a happy and healthy holiday.


Strategies: Set Up a Booth To Bolster Your Placements

BoothPhotoThe finish line grows closer by the day. In two weeks the season for August placements will be over, and we will be turning our sights toward January and the next wave of students. But before the season closes the headquarters thought it might be helpful to impart some tried and true wisdom on the field. So in the interest of making the most out of your regions, how about a little friendly advice from the north, where School Lunch Hour Booths have become one of the most successful paths to quality placements since the telethon and word-of-mouth advertising.

Our dear friend Rose Hawkins was nice enough to share her strategy with us, and her methods, as she told me earlier today, account for at least a third of the eighty or more placements made by her and her team each year. Her recommendation is that you follow these simple steps:

     1) Contact Your Schools: Establish contact with your schools by finding the first interested family and using their interest to generate more, or simply call and make an appointment to speak with a responsible administrator. Explain who you are and what you do, and then ask if it would be possible to set up an information booth during school lunch hours in which you can display information, hand out pamphlets , and take down the information of any students that want to participate in the program. Many schools will ask that at your booth you include information about ISE’s Outbound Program, and that is just fine, but make sure that you have plenty of supplies and information about the international students as well. By reaching out to the student body in your local high schools, you can find many wonderful families that would love an opportunity for their children to experience a foreign culture.

2)      Use Pictures, Pamphlets, and Plenty of Color: When setting up your booth, use colorful ads and distribute materials that will catch the eye. Your materials are in our office and ready for distribution, and each piece has all the information needed for setting up a placement. Make your booth look fun and use a lot of positive energy. People will respond if they know you are passionate about what you do.

3)      Be Positive, Not Pushy: Remember, you are at the school as a representative of a company that holds education and world peace above all other aspects. You want to show the students in your area that cultural experience and the promise of education is what draws the international community towards this program. Give out as much information as you can, but don’t demand access to the families and friends in your community.  If they know you are there, and they know what you do, they will see your booth and come to you.

4)      Try Alternatives: While most managers will swear by the lunch hour, try to set up during an event as well. Watch the school calendar for a conference night, sporting event, student social event, or Meet the Teacher night. Always ask permission before bring in your supplies, but you may be surprised at the positive response you get from a booth as opposed to cold-calling and passive flyers.

If you would like more information on setting up an information booth or if you think you have a great idea for a booth session and want some advice, do not hesitate to contact your program manager or facilitator at the headquarters. We are standing by ready to help you and we want to see you succeed. All it takes is a chance to generate interest, and you can have the most successful year you have ever seen.