Paying it Forward in January

“Pay it Forward” is an idea and an expression that is generating a lot of attention these days, as well as  many benevolent and often random acts of charity and kindness. The phrase was often used widely in the fields of banking and lending, but it has come to mean something very different in our modern parlance. The idea is fairly simple. When someone does a good deed that helps you, offers you a random act of kindness, or simply treats you with respect and does something that gives you a good feeling, you in turn do the same for a stranger rather than repaying the “debt”. In a sense, you carry that good deed to the next person, who will, hopefully, do the same for the next person.

 

The idea of paying it forward is spreading, too. Just this morning your humble correspondent opened his facebook page to find an invite to the Second Annual Pay it Forward Weekend, taking place from January 17 to January 19. A novel idea, I thought, because as much as we wish that people were benevolent, respectful, and courteous to one another everyday, sometimes there has to be an occasion for people to realize the value of an idea such as this. I signed on right away and hoped that my readers would as well.

 

Paying it forward does not require a grand charitable gesture, or the expenditure of large sums of money. It can and should be something simple. It should be something that makes one person feel good. That being said, I offer up the following anecdote as an example of paying it forward, and how a simple act of kindness can often mean a lot when it comes unexpectedly.

 

A few years ago I took a trip to Germany. I landed in Berlin with zero knowledge of the language, and only a cursory knowledge of the city. It was also my first visit to Europe, and when my feet hit the ground I existed in a state of mild panic that someone would figure out I was from the U.S. and make me pay for it somehow. The U.S. was losing the global popularity contest and I there was no way to hide my citizenship. I assumed that I felt the way our students feel when they land at the airport to be greeted by strangers, except no one was holding a sign heralding my arrival.

 

Berlin was a maze, the language was rapid-fired between people on sidewalks and in shops, and everything was written in a mishmosh of Roman letters I recognized, peppered with symbols I did not. On the first day, determined to begin my attempt at understanding my new surroundings, I strayed from my hotel to a Christmas market in Potsdamer Platz. Attracted by the sounds of music and the smells of roasting meat and hot wine I dove into the crowd, walking through the little stands full of candy and toys and crafts and listening to the strange and rigid sounds of the people coursing through the square. I felt like an outsider. I was amazed by the sights but I couldn’t be a part of them. Even the simple act of ordering a beverage seemed a monumental and potentially embarrassing task.

 

An older gentlemen must have noticed me staring into the depths of a stand selling bratwurst and mulled wine with a pained look on my face because he approached me and asked in English if needed help. I remember an immense feeling of relief at hearing another person speak my native language, and he must have seen it because a smile crossed his face. I explained that I had been in the country for eighteen hours with nothing to eat. Everything being sold at the stands looked delicious but I was too apprehensive to ask for any of it because I didn’t speak any German.

 

Without another word he walked up to the stand and ordered a few items. When I tried to pay he waved me off and asked me instead to find a table we could share in the plaza. As we ate he explained a few German words to help me get around, told me what it was we were eating, and asked me about my travels. For the twenty or so minutes I spent with the man he told me about German customs, explained where I could find people who spoke English if there was an emergency, and recommended different parts of the city for me to visit. He also told me that when he was a student he had visited Greece and woman in Athens had shown him kindness by buying him a coffee and telling him how to get around. He told me not to worry. Everyone is a stranger at one point or another. His countrymen were human beings. They would understand.

 

When we finished he handed me a small, creased subway map, shook my hand and welcomed me to Germany. Then he turned and folded back into the crowd. It was a strange and comforting encounter. With my hunger abated and a renewed sense of determination I left Potsdamer Platz and headed into the city. The man’s small act of kindness was enough to make me feel welcome, and as I walked through the squares I reminded myself to keep an open mind and try to learn as much as possible.

 

The rest of my trip was remarkable. I quickly learned how to get around on the Metro, bought armloads of gifts for my friends and family back home, and visited places I had only previously seen on television and the internet. It may sound strange, but the kindness shown to me by the man at the market gave me the confidence to try, and without that it would have been a very different trip.

 

That is what paying it forward it all about. One seemingly small gesture had changed the way I thought about Berlin in a profound way. It had changed my entire experience. The man at the market owed me nothing, but he remembered a time when he was young and in a new place and a stranger had offered him help.

 

What you may not realize is that these kinds of stories happen daily, and each new day is an opportunity. I encourage all of my readers to pay it forward this January. Find a way to make someone you don’t know believe that there are good people in the world, and maybe on day they will have the chance to prove it, too.

 

Because ISE loves to hear about and share in the accomplishments of our students, we are sponsoring a Pay it Forward contest of sorts. If you do something unique for a random stranger or if you think that we would love to hear about your Pay it Forward Weekend, visit the ISE twitter page and tell us about it. You could win a free piece of swag from the famous ISE Swag Bag. We cannot wait to hear your stories.

 

For more information about Pay it Forward Weekend, please click here.

Bringing Your Holiday to the United States

The holiday season is upon us! Gatherings, gifts, vacations, and voyages are underway for the many end-of-year celebrations that take place in the U.S., and for the numerous diverse groups across the country there is plenty to celebrate.

Samara

While Christmas may dominate the landscape of December in the U.S., there are many different celebrations that take place between November and January. Hanukah and Kwanza are some of the more familiar end-of-year traditions, but there are also other celebrations like the Dongzhi Festival, celebrated by Eastern Asian cultures, the Pancha Ganapati festival, celebrated by Hindus, or Bodhi Day, celebrating the enlightenment of Bhudda.

Salvation Army

Most of these festivals share a common thread. They are all concerned with closing the year, welcoming the New Year, or concern an important religious or historical figure to whom an homage is paid. The festival of Pancha Ganapati, for example, honors the lord Pancha Ganapati and the deity Ganesha, and is a time for celebration and spiritual reflection on one’s past. The image of the deity is honored with different colored robes for each of the five days of the celebration, as well as tinsel and colorful flashing lights. Like Christmas, Pancha Ganapati, Hanukah, and the others are all celebrations that call for gatherings and feasting and are occasions for family and friends to spend time together.

Wayne with her exchange students

Some of the greatest aspects of these holiday celebrations are the different traditions that each family enjoys. Even within individual cultures and religions people celebrate the same holidays in different ways. For example, it is a widespread tradition for Christian families in the U.S. to gather for a large dinner on Christmas Eve, but in several areas of the country Christmas Eve is celebrated with fireworks and gift exchanges wait until Christmas morning.

Mingrui - Snow

The diversity in holiday traditions is what makes the season such an exciting time of year. Festivities and fun come in many different forms, and for our foreign visitors that is an important part of living abroad during this time of year. The reason the United States has such varied traditions for end-of-year celebrations is because of the worldwide influx of different cultures that have come to America over the years and shared their history with one another.

Visiting Santa

Exchange visitors are also largely responsible for creating new family traditions when it comes to the holidays, because each student and family impact one another’s’ lives in such a profound way. As an exchange visitor this is a great time to tell host family members and friends what your holiday traditions are and how your family likes to celebrate them. What kind of holiday decoration do you have in your home country? Are there any games your family and friends play that you can show to your host family?

 

Take this opportunity to learn as much as you can and show others what the holidays mean to you. Have a safe and healthy holiday season!

 

Staying Sane During the Holidays!

Saying that one time of year is more hectic than another in America is probably a notion at which an exchange student would scoff. For our foreign visitors “hectic” is a common state of being, a natural way of life. But it is often said that the litany of holidays that fall between November and the New Year create a stressful time of year in which everyone is scrambling to shop, spend time with friends and family, and finish off all of their holiday plans before the new year comes around.

Grand Canyon

 At a time like this it is hard not to get caught up in the frenzy and miss out on the last few weeks of the exchange program. For semester students who will be returning to their home countries in January, there may be as few as four to five weeks left of the semester, which means our time together is rapidly drawing to a close.

Giraff

For sake of all program participants, it is important to remember that part of the program is the opportunity to take in the surroundings, make friends, and learn as much as possible. These goals are hard to attain while being constantly bombarded by mid-term exams, wish lists, and making preparations for a return trip.

Bengals Game

Instead, keep in mind that the trip will be over shortly and it is a good time to take stock of what has been accomplished. What about this experience was the most enjoyable? Was there anything you could have done or wanted to do that was not available? Here are a few tips to help you remember your experience:

Reds Game

1)   Take pictures: These days cameras are abundant and of high quality, even the ones installed in most cell phones. Take photos with friends, family members, teachers, and anyone else that was important to you. It might bore your family and friends back home to sit through your slideshow, but each photo will remind you of a very important moment.

2)   Get phone numbers and email addresses: Make sure that you can keep in touch with your friend after you leave. You may want to talk to them some day down the road and realize that you never got around to saving an email address. Facebook works well, also, but can often be unreliable when you are on a first name basis with many of your friends.

3)   Remember to say your “thank yous”: A small gift or a card for your family and teachers will ensure that they never forget you. It is a great way to show your gratitude and let people know that you appreciated your time here.

4)   Visit your local Historical Society or a regional museum: Many of these educational places will have pamphlets and icons that you can bring home to show people you know what the area you lived in was like. It will also make you look smart when you can recite facts about the area in which you lived.

Ye Zhong - Grand Teton

Most of all, try to enjoy the last few weeks of the season. Treasure the time you have left and try your hardest to let your host family know if you had a good time living in your host community.

Rest assured you will be missed. ISE wishes all of our students and host families a happy holiday season. Be safe and be well.

 

Thanksgiving, what traditions does your host family have?

Thanksgiving is one the best holidays in the US. It falls on the 4th Thursday of every November and is celebrated by almost everyone in the country.

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Several countries have their own version of the holiday. Some even dispute exactly when the first Thanksgiving occurred. Most Americans follow it back to 1621, when the Pilgrims came to the US on the Mayflower. It wasn’t until 1789 did George Washington proclaim the first nation-wide Thanksgiving. Many historians believe it was George Washington that created the “Thursday” tradition as he set it for Thursday, November 26th, 1789. Abraham Lincoln (another great president), decided to follow the trend of Thursday and make Thanksgiving the last of each month. Congress made it an official holiday in 1941, establishing the 4th Thursday of November.

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The great part of Thanksgiving is not the history, but the fact every family seems to have their own traditions. Growing up, I would visit my grandparents along with all of my uncles and cousins. We would play a football game in the morning, followed by setting up for a 4:00 PM dinner. By 6:00 PM, dessert was on the table with some of the best homemade pies I ever tasted. After all the dishes were done, my family would head to the bowling alley for friendly competition.

My friend’s family does an Italian Thanksgiving. Instead of turkey and mash potatoes, they serve lasagna and chicken parmesan. After dinner, they have Italian cookies and finish the night with Yahtzee.

My college roommate was from Detroit. His family went to the annual football game every year. They had dinner at the stadium.

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My brother’s wife, her family had a late Thanksgiving dinner. After dinner, they would go wait in line at Best Buy for “Black Friday” deals. Black Friday is the unofficial kickoff to the holiday season. Many stores will offer great deals as people will wait in line for a 12:00 AM open.

When Thanksgiving comes, the important thing is to spend time with your host family. Learn about their traditions and how they celebrate it. You might meet some of your extended host family (cousins, uncles, aunts). This is a good chance to ask your aunts, uncles and even grandparents family history questions. Ask about how they grew up and where some the family traditions started.

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Either way, be sure to eat a lot of food, watch a football game and help clean up!

ISE Student Takes Community Service to a Whole New Level

Brazilian exchange student, Ana, came to the U.S. to experience a new culture and to refine her English language skills. She was placed with the Spencer family in Longmont, CO, and settled into her new life with relative ease.

 

“My host family is amazing,” Ana stated. “I have never had a brother before, so it’s great.”

 

Shortly after her arrival, Ana heard news that a major rain storm was coming. Thinking at first that the storm was no big deal, Ana went to bed like it was any other night. She never could have imagined what would happen next. When she awoke the next morning, her Twitter timeline was buzzing with messages describing wreckage and devastation from a flood. She quickly went to the TV and saw with her own eyes what was happening outside.

 

Flood 2

 

“I was on a hill, so I wasn’t worried about my house. I did walk down to see the flooding. I was shocked to see the roads covered with water and the bridges destroyed.”

 

The floods had damaged over 20,000 homes and destroyed roads, bridges and business. The devastation was intense, but Ana didn’t do much for the next few days. School was cancelled, so she just spent time with a few friends. Soon, people that she knew began to be evacuated, and more and more people from Brazil contacted her to make sure she was ok. She assured them that everything was fine and that she was safe in her home.  After a few days, she decided that it was time to do something.

 

Flood 1

 

On day three Ana woke up and decided to get to work. She had volunteered in Brazil in the past and she realized that her community needed her.

 

“I asked myself, ‘Why should I sit in my bedroom if I could be out doing something?’ I told my host mom that I wanted to help.”

 

Flood 3

 

Ana’s host mother called a friend that was involved in the community. Her friend directed Ana to the mall where people could sign up to volunteer. Ana jumped in immediately. That day Ana was assigned to take supply orders for FEMA. She had never heard of FEMA before; there was nothing like it in Brazil. She wound up working over four hours that first day.

 

“After the first day, I thought I was really helping people. It made me want to go back to help again.”

 

On the second day, Ana was assigned to work at the warehouse. Her responsibilities were to gather supplies and help people get specific items in the “market”. She assisted families in deciding what they would need to get by for the upcoming week. In everything she did she felt a sense of accomplishment. It felt good to help. At one point, she met a man that didn’t want anything. He was living in his car because his house was destroyed. Even though he had lost everything, he didn’t want to take much from the people who needed it more than he.

 

“It made me feel so grateful about the everything I have and the host family I live with. People are so nice in this country. It was amazing to see someone left with nothing, but yet still was thinking of his fellow community.”

 

Ana went back for a third day, enjoying the volunteer work and the help that she was able to offer to people. She is planning on joining a club or even starting one that would focus on relief for those who have lost their homes. Things are beginning to get to normal in Longmont, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

 

“After this experience, it taught me to be thankful for what you have. Sometime you don’t even notice your small things might be big things to other people.”

 

Halloween in the USA

Get your costume ready! Halloween is only a few short days away, and for Americans that means parties, festivals, parades, candy, and maybe even a few tricks. At this point you have probably noticed that your neighborhood has begun to take on a playfully ghastly appeal, with people adorning their homes with carved pumpkins and ghosts and skeletons. Although it may seem strange to decorate one’s house with such gruesome objects, what most people don’t even realize is that they are actually participating in a European tradition that dates back to the 1500’s and was carried over to the States by our more recent ancestors.

 Anja Carving her Pumpkin

It is a widely held belief that the modern Halloween traditions of carving pumpkins, wearing disguises, begging for treats, and practicing mischief are all remnants of Celtic and Christian rituals. The Celtic rituals were performed in the fall after harvest was complete, and symbolized a time of the year when the earth was caught between the world of the living and the world of the dead. In later years, Christians, in honor of deceased saints and faithful followers, would celebrate All Saints Day, the preceding evening being titled All Hallows Eve, during which children and poor people would dress in guise and beg for food.

 pumpkin patch 2

The traditions were carried over to the United States during the large influx of European immigrants in the early 1900, when many Irish and Scottish were trying to escape the Great Potato Famine that was decimating food supplies in their home countries. The practice of carving pumpkins comes also from this culture, whose people were accustomed to carving turnips and placing candles inside. Because pumpkins were easier to carve and more abundant, the pumpkin took the turnip’s place and became the traditional symbol for Halloween in the U.S. If you are interested in learning more about the story of the Jack O’ Lantern, click on this link.

 Halloween

Today, many of the celebrated Halloween traditions include trick or treating, bonfires, costumes, parties and games. Kids will flock to the streets dressed as witches, superheroes, ghosts and pirates, knocking on doors for candy and arranging games like bobbing for apples. If you are new to American culture, all of this may seem odd to you, but for the most part it is all in good fun.

 pumpkin patch

If you think this sounds like fun try joining this year’s ISE Halloween Costume contest. You can win a bag of ISE goodies and have your picture on the ISE Facebook page for your friend and family back home to see. Just go to this website www.iseusa.com/Student_Exchange_Promotions.cfm?&#contestEntry and submit the photo of yourself dressed for Halloween. Then you can vote on the best costume.

 pumpkin patch 4

Have a safe and happy Halloween!

 

Caring for Your Community: Serving with Project HELP

If you have been following Exchange Blog for the last few weeks, you may have noticed several reoccurring themes: getting involved, being a part of something larger than yourself, and reaching out to people in your community. One of the reasons for all the repetition is that these are important parts of being an exchange student, and the fastest way to become acclimated to your new home. The other reason is that becoming an active member of your community will not only help you adjust, but will help you to grow as a person. Helping others and practicing empathy is a productive path toward personal discovery and self-awareness. And so, without further deviation, may we introduce Project HELP.

Church ImageProject HELP is an outreach initiative that began in 2007 as a way for ISE and the students we sponsor to give to back to the communities that make this program possible. Since its inception, Project HELP has donated hundreds of thousands of service hours to local and national charities, outreach organizations, and other nonprofits that offer help to those in need. During the ISE J-1 program, each student is required to perform at least five service hours, which amounts to about one Saturday afternoon. However, most student preform between twenty and one hundred hours during the program.

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So what does this mean for you? Well, consider the many people whose efforts have gone into helping you realize your dream of being an exchange student: the volunteers, the organizations, the government officials, the administration of your school, and the people of the community in which you live. Their coordinated efforts helped make the exchange program possible, and giving something back is a way of showing your appreciation. In addition, getting out into the neighborhood and lending a hand to those in need will help you get to know your American neighbors, make friends, and foster a positive relationship with your community. In doing so you will get a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction that only benevolent acts can bring.

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There are many opportunities out there for those who want to help. Start with a local search of the charitable or not-for-profit organizations in your area, such as the Salvation Army, Red Cross, food pantries, soup kitchens, and public services that accept volunteers. If these are not available, offer to rake leaves or shovel snow for a neighbor in need, or start a community cleanup group that will help remove litter from your neighborhood or a local park. If you are looking for something a little bigger, this year ISE has partnered with Ronald McDonald House and the Red Cross to coordinate safe and fun projects for students who want to help their communities. Just go to https://www.iseusa.com/student-project-help.cfm to learn more about what is out there.

Community Service

Your efforts to help those around you will help you and your fellow students achieve the diplomatic goals of the Exchange Visitor program by showing people that we can all work together regardless of from where we come. Your community will be grateful for your help, and you are guaranteed to have a lot of fun in the process.

Ana & Oli

As always, please take care when conducting a service project. Adult supervisors should be present and emergency contact information should be collected in the event of accidents. Be safe! Good luck and have a great fall.

 

Settling In: Student Life After the First Few Weeks

The first few weeks of student life on the J-1 program can be a bit stressful to say the very least. While you are taking in all the exciting new possibilities around you, you are simultaneously being bombarded by constant cultural differences and new surroundings. What anthropologists and sociologists like to call “Culture Shock” is, in the simplest terms, that nagging sensation that everything around you seems strange and confusing simply because you have changed your physical location. Transplanting yourself from a comfortable and familiar environment brings with it the inevitable realization that you are no longer at home; adapting to your new life is going to be a challenge. But rather than harp on the negative, there are ways (some of which you have probably already figured out) to help you ease into living abroad.

Dusan arriving at DFW airport

To begin, try to distance yourself from your home country. No, that doesn’t mean sever all ties with your family and friends, but do your best to keep contact to a minimum. An effective schedule is twice a month, or at most once a week for phone calls and video chats. This may sounds a little radical at first, but time and again students have driven themselves crazy with homesickness by keeping in constant contact with friends and relatives back home. Cut the tether. Remember that you undertook this endeavor to broaden your horizons. This is harder to do when you are still looking back as opposed to ahead. Instead, talk to your home country about your host family and new acquaintances at school. You will be surprised when people marvel at hearing stories about where you come from, and how different it is from the U.S. Their interest and support will help you adjust to living in your new home.

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Another adjustment strategy that you should try is to dive right into American culture headfirst. Read American books and magazines, watch American movies, listen to American music, and speak English to everyone. This will not only help you improve your language skills, it will also give you something to talk about with your peers. Additionally, immersing yourself in American culture will make your experience here more memorable and easier to navigate. You will be more receptive to the way people talk, act, and think if you try to understand your peer’s cultural influences. At the same time offer your friends and host family some cultural artifacts from your home country. Lend them a book, recommend a film, clue them into music that you listen to back home, tell them what kind of foods you like to eat, or what you do for fun. Exchanging culture is what the J-1 program is all about, and being interested in what other people do will show them that you are making the effort to learn what it is like to be an American.

While you are doing your best to adjust to life in the U.S.A., also try to keep in mind that school and family are two very important parts of your life in here. Your host family volunteered for the program, and your school wanted to offer you an American education. Both did it for the experience and the opportunity to help you realize your dream of studying abroad. Although your family, peers, and teachers may think and act differently than people did in your home country that doesn’t make them bad, strange, or weird. Reconciling cultural differences is what makes this program so important, and the first step in accomplishing that goal is learning about one another.

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Now that you have been here for a few weeks you should be settling in nicely, getting involved in activities, and making friends. The first few weeks may have been chaotic and disorienting, but that time has passed. So relax, enjoy yourself, give it your all in school, and learn as much as you can. Don’t think about what you will do when you return home but what you will do with the time you have here. How will you make every moment of this experience count? The choice is yours.

Getting Involved in Your Community

For arriving students, one of the most important parts of the exchange visitor program is getting involved in the locality in which you find yourself placed. The benefits are numerous, not the least of which will be the enhancement to the overall experience of being an exchange visitor. It will also help you to build memories, make friends, and feel like a part of something greater and larger than yourself. But what is “getting involved”? What does being a member of a community really mean? And how does one find a route to get there?

Boglarka Tampa

For starters, you need to divest yourself of the fear of meeting strangers. Since you have decided to come on the J-1 Exchange Program in the first place, perhaps this is a fear you have already conquered. However, if you need a little boost the easiest way to get involved in your community is to find groups who share your interests. Are you an avid football fan? Perhaps you can find a club or join a team through your school. Do you consider yourself an artist? Many communities have interest groups that will help you to explore your talents. Joining a groups such as these offers the opportunity to meet like-minded people, improve your English skills through discussion and conversation, and offers an inroad to meeting more and more people as you increase your network of acquaintances.

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If you are not sure where to begin, good places to research existing groups are church bulletins, local shopper newspapers, libraries, and local events, such as fairs and open markets. These places will post notices about upcoming events, groups to contact, and places where people congregate. By keeping an open mind and thinking about what makes you and your new neighbors similar as opposed to what makes you different, you will naturally devise more and more ways to meet new people. Always make responsible decisions about where you are going and how you plan to meet new people. Be safe by being careful.

First Bus Ride

It is also worth mentioning that community outreach organizations and service groups are always looking for volunteers. A great way to make strong connections in your community is to show your community that you care by pitching in and helping out. Look for opportunities like food pantries, soup kitchens, and clothing drives, as well as hospitals, Salvation Army, and Red Cross Locations. Charitable organizations like these are great places to meet people and extend your friendship. When people see that a visitor to their country cares enough about them to help out, they will be happily impressed with your efforts and appreciative of your help.

Recycle

Are you still not convinced? Consider a few other things. First of all, this program is not just about academics. Of course, doing well in school is of the utmost importance, but learning about American culture is at the same level. There is no better way to learn about how Americans live then to get to know a few. Additionally, your school is going to be your second home. Consider that you will spend more than eight hours a day within its walls. It would be a shame to miss out on the opportunity to get to know your classmates, especially when you will be spending so much time together.

ORCHESTRA

Ultimately the decision is yours, but if memories and experience are the reasons you joined the program, then get out into the community and get to know your neighbors. Join clubs at school, volunteer to help with homecoming, learn to play an instrument, or show off your talents by joining one of the sports teams. Whatever you decide just remember to get to know the place you live in. You have been given the chance of a lifetime. Make it count. Good luck!

The Goal of Student Exchange: Arrivals Begin a New Chapter for ISE

Have you ever thought about studying abroad? If you are considering it, you can ask any one of the thousands of participants of foreign exchange programs arriving during the next few weeks. Each student brings something different to the proverbial table, whether it is a different experience, different customs, or different beliefs. But the one thing that they will have in common is the courage that it takes to leave behind their homes and their friends and family to explore the unknown.

airport family

If one were to look at the parameters of the J-1 program, on the surface it seems almost ludicrous. Imagine uprooting yourself from family, friends, school, and community to cross an enormous distance and take up residence with total strangers. Sounds daunting, doesn’t it? Well it may for some, but thousands of students do it each and every year with great success, earning honors and bringing joy to thousands of families. The fear of the unknown notwithstanding, for the students who muster the courage to leave their comfort zones each year there are adventures waiting to found.

Chicago Kids

Education and cultural exchange are the keystones to the J-1 program, and relationships are the driving force. What really propels the J-1 program forward is the social engine. Each student gets a unique experience, a new family, and a chance to see what America is really like. Meeting friends, becoming part of a family, and stepping into the role of the diplomat create the exchange that brings nations together and creates new ways of thinking.

Animal Kingdom

There are no limits to what learning and understanding can do for the human race. The students that will arrive over the course of these next few weeks are a testament to the dream of a unified global community. Attainability is a plane ticket and a warm handshake away.