A Letter from Home

Periodically ISE will receive letters from natural parents expressing joy and elation over their child’s success on a culture exchange program. This particular letter is from a proud mother who is excited to see her daughter mature on our program with the assistance of some excellent schools in Wisconsin. ISE is proud to represent such wonderful schools and will continue to promote a positive educational environment for its students now and in the future.

To whom it may concern,

My name is Myriam Fuentes and I am the mother of one of your international students, Laura López, who is in the 12th grade. I’m getting in touch with you to thank you for the unique experience my daughter is having in the USA, both in what respects her personal development being in contact with the American culture, meeting new people, experiencing different situations, etc. and also academically through her studies in Spring Valley High School. I am a high school teacher myself and I have been a member of the administration board in a public High School in Spain for the last 16 years. Through my career I had had some contact with the American Educational System, which helped me to make the decision to send my daughter to the USA, in the belief that it would be beneficial for her education.

Laura had always lived in Palma de Mallorca, a middle-sized city in an isle in the Mediterran Sea. Life in Spring Valley seems to be very different from life in our city, moreover living with a family she had never met before was challenging, making friends was difficult at first, and she missed her family and friends very much, so I think that she had to make a greater effort to adapt than she had expected. I must say that as parents we are very proud of the effort she has made to adapt, study and do her best in every aspect. On the other hand, I am happy to say that the flexibility of your educational system, the wide offer and quality of your subjects and most of all the helpfulness and dedication of your school teachers and staff, are enabling her to follow her 12th grade studies successfully, and I think it will be for her a good preparation for next year’s university studies in Spain. As you probably know, her objective is to be admitted into engineering university studies which, in Spain, require very high marks from high school and passing a difficult entry exam in june which she is trying to prepare from the USA, which also implies some extra work for her, but I hope everything will come out satisfactorily.

I am also glad that Laura has been able to participate in different school activities and contribute in a positive way to their development. She has explained to us that she has participated in the dance team and other sport activities, she was invited to talk about our culture in the Spanish class and she has represented Spring Valley High School in the Science Olympiad regional team competition.

My husband and I are sure this experience is going to be an essential part of her personal and academic education and we would like you to make extensive our gratefulness to all the teachers and school staff that she has been in contact with.

Yours sincerely,

Myriam Fuentes Milani


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.


A Plea for the Continuation of Cultural Exchange

There are really no more inspiring stories than those of bright, ambitious young people who come to the United States and become Ambassadors of the American Dream. I am not speaking of immigrants, but of Foreign Exchange Students who come to an American High School for a semester or a full school year. For the last 20 years my wife, Barbara Bostock, has been privileged to have brought over 2000 high school exchange students to the Orange County area, where they have stayed with American host families, studied in our local schools, and carried their stories, relationships, and the Promise of America back to their home countries with them. These are academically gifted students who often rise to levels of prominence and influence in their home countries when they return and begin their careers, and their fond memories of their American Experience can only be a positive influence on the Global Village at a time when there is so much discord in the world.

Add to that the real benefit to the American students of forming lifelong bonds with academic peers from Europe, Asia, and South America, and you would think that this would be a program with unequivocal support in our local schools.

Unfortunately that is no longer the case. All around Orange County schools are cutting back on the number of foreign exchange students they will allow into their programs, and some schools are refusing to take any students at all.

As an Englishman who came here as a college exchange student I can vouch for the fact that everyone is enriched by this experience—the schools, the exchange students, the host families, and the American peer group.

While I am sensitive to budgetary issues, the elimination of a handful of exchange students from a school pales in comparison to the bureaucratic waste that routinely occurs, and the detriment to the community, the students, the school, and international relations far outweighs any minor savings there may be.

Restricting high-achieving foreign students from our schools, where their presence can only enrich and encourage the pursuit of excellence, is shortsighted and counterproductive. I urge families in our communities to encourage this tremendous program, and I challenge our local schools not to turn further inward, but to look outward and understand what it is that America has to offer the world.

Study Abroad as an American High School Student!

American high school students think about proms, football games, pep rallies, and homework on an almost daily basis, but the thought of traveling abroad to study in another country is hardly ever considered. As we move forward in the 21st century the world is becoming smaller, cultures are intersecting, and the need for greater understanding between countries is even greater. International Student Exchange(ISE) believes in the need for more Outbound programs, which is why we have developed multiple programs to suit the needs of different students. ISE now offers an academic year program, which typically lasts 10 months, a semester program, which lasts 5 months, and a summer program, lasting 2-3 weeks in either Italy or France.

ISE is also proud of its home teacher program which allows interested applicants to live in either Italy, France or Belgium for a select period of time where they will teach a host family English while the host family provides room, board, and a cultural exchange program.

Please visit ISE’s Outbound site to learn more!