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SAE Staff Interview: Meet Deir!

We are excited to welcome our newest Program Coordinator to the SAE team! Since he came to the United States as an international student from Mexico, Deir has an inside perspective on what many of our exchange students are feeling as they come into the United States. We sat down to ask him a few questions about his experience:

What was it like to come to the US as a college student?

“It was pretty cool – I think it was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. It helped to have an open mind and open heart to try everything. It definitely paid off!”

What has surprised you the most about American culture?

“Americans seem to need so much space!”

What was the biggest culture shock you felt?

“Going to college in Missouri, there was a huge lack of awareness about authentic Mexican food. There were restaurants that claimed to be authentic and they definitely were not.”

What have been your favorite and least favorite things about living in the United States?

“One of my favorite things has been the security that comes with living here. Also, Americans seem more open minded to different cultures and more willing to talk to strangers and I like that. My least favorite thing is transportation. Where I’ve lived it’s been hard to get around and public transportation has been lacking compared to other places around the world.”

What’s one thing you think people should know about international students?

“One big misconception I found was that people often assume you are immediately well aware of the culture and able to get along with no problems. It’s an adjustment, and I think it’s important for people to understand that about exchange students.”

For more information on how you can get involved in our programs, reach out to us at info@saeglobal.org today!

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Traditions Around the World: Mid-Autumn Festival in China

From time to time, we like to feature holidays celebrated in some of the countries our students come from. Since the Mid-Autumn festival was celebrated on September 24 in China, we wanted to dive a little deeper to give you a little more information on the holiday!

As the fall season approaches, there is a certain feeling of excitement in the air. This is all the more true for an exchange student who is also getting used to life in a brand new country.  This season is full of countless opportunities for students to encounter new traditions. Visiting a pumpkin patch, picking apples, playing in the falling leaves, and cheering on your favorite football team are all activities that we might associate with fall in the United States.  Regardless of how your family enjoys fall together, hosting an exchange student is a great way to see your traditions through new eyes.

Fall is an exciting time in China as well, as the Mid-Autumn Festival approaches.  It is also known as the Moon Festival, signifying the fact that the moon is at its brightest during this time of year.   This festival has been celebrated for centuries with the purpose of gathering close friends and family together to give thanks for a successful harvest and pray for longevity and a prosperous future.  Festivities include lighting lanterns, spending time with family members, and eating mooncakes  –  round cakes typically filled with a red bean paste.

Exchange students from all countries come with different traditions and holidays. One of the best parts of hosting a student is you get to celebrate new holidays while introducing them to your own. Whether you’re trying your first mooncake or getting your student excited to go to their very first high school pep rally, fall is an exciting time for both host families and students.

We are going to be hosting informational webinars this fall for anyone who may be interested in hosting an exchange student. Families who have been interested but have lots of questions – this is for you! Please join us for one of our two first webinars on Tuesday, October 23 and Thursday, October 25.

To register for the October 23 webinar (at 6:00 PM CDT), click here.

To register for the October 25 webinar (at 4:00 PM CDT), click here. 

If you have any questions before then, we’d love to talk to you! Simply send an email to info@saeglobal.org and a Program Coordinator will contact you.

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Rainy Day Activities

Down in Texas, we’re full of ideas for outdoor summer activities. Whether we’re hiking, playing sports, or cooling off in the water, there’s never a shortage of fun things to do. So when last week met us with days of rainy weather, we were at a bit of a loss. One of our students, Elaine, absolutely adores rainy weather. She explained to us that rainy days are “very comfortable, especially in the summer to slow down the dry heat. Rainy days are suitable for thinking, and people’s minds become calm. The rainy season in my hometown is wonderful.” We’re a little less enthusiastic about the rain, so we came up with a list of activities that host families could do with their exchange students despite the gloomy weather.

  1. Make scrapbooks together! The year is going to go by faster than you can both believe it. Making scrapbooks is a great way to spend time together collecting memories, and when your student goes home you will both have something to look back on all of the good times with.
  2. Family scavenger hunt: You can either look for uncommon objects around the house or go to a local shopping center. This is a great way to keep everyone moving despite being cooped up indoors, and it’s also a good opportunity for your student to pick up some new vocabulary while looking for items on their list.
  3. Watch your favorite movies: Watching movies and TV is a great way for students to strengthen their English while also getting to relax. Beyond that, you can learn more about each other by watching movies that are important to you.
  4. Get cooking: Food is a great way to connect with another culture while getting to enjoy a tasty treat. Whether you’re decorating cookies, preparing specialties from your student’s home country, or teaching your student how to make some of your favorite dishes, you’re bound to bond while having fun.

Rainy days can definitely drag on, but you’ll never run out of opportunities to connect with your exchange student and form a strong relationship. We are still matching students for the 2018-19 school year. They’re excited to come to America and experience so many new things, regardless of the weather. To learn more about these students, check out our photolisting or reach out to us at info@saeglobal.org today!

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Why Study in America?

Every year, an increasing amount of students choose to study abroad. A U.S. News & World Report study showed that the number of students obtaining an education abroad had grown from 2.1 million in 2001 to 4.6 million in 2017. During that time period, the United States has remained the top destination for international students. For students who want to learn English, there are many different countries to choose from. And yet, more than other English speaking countries, students choose America. While we get ready to celebrate Independence Day tomorrow, we thought it would be fun to hear from our students who will be arriving this fall what makes them excited to come here!

Ana, from Spain: I have chosen the USA because people are open minded and I like the hospitality that Americans have. I also want to go and improve my English and have good experiences there. I want to live with an American family because my friends who have gone had a good experience.

Ed, from China: I’ve heard American food is delicious. I hope I’ll taste some homemade American food!

Astrid, from China: The reason why I chose to go to America is I like the American culture, and I like the open and free attitude of American people. I want to learn English well and learn more about American culture.

As we take time to celebrate America, we also reflect on how we are seen around the world. Diplomacy begins and ends with people crossing cultures and borders to get to know each other. Hosting one exchange student might feel like an insignificant act in the grand scheme of international relations, but every single student returns home from their program with a new view of their host country, and this view spreads to everyone they interact with at home. By hosting an exchange student, families have a real opportunity to impact the future of diplomacy between America and the rest of the world. As exchange students continue to come to the United States to learn firsthand about our culture, we will continue to be grateful to the families, teachers, and individuals who take it upon themselves to show them what it means to be American.

For more information on how to get involved, reach out to info@saeglobal.org or check out our photolisting and get to know our students!

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Goodbye, 2017-18 Students!

June is always a bittersweet time in the office. As we get excited for our new students to arrive, we also have to say goodbye to the students who have made the US their home over the last 10 months. It’s hard to believe that only last year they were preparing for this experience. We thought it would be fun to read the letters they wrote before arriving and see how they changed and grew through the experience. We’ve highlighted three students below:

“I’ve been to America before, but then I didn’t have much knowledge about your culture. So I’d take this precious chance to experience American culture and learn what I’ve never learned before.” – Elaine

Elaine thoroughly enjoyed learning about American culture over the year – ESPECIALLY celebrating holidays the American way! She dressed up for Halloween with her siblings and wrote her host parents and grandparents thank you notes at Thanksgiving. She even wrapped presents for her host family for Christmas and filmed the whole process!







“I hope I can be a bridge over the two cultures and contribute to the cultural exchange of the two.” – Andrew
Andrew experienced so many American events – attending a livestock show, going to prom, and posing for a holiday photo with his host siblings. But, true to his letter, he gave as much as he got! From cooking Chinese food for his host family to teaching his host brother Mandarin, Andrew became a bridge between Chinese culture and American culture and formed a bond that will last for years to come!




“I’ve always wanted a little sister since I was a child but I never had one – just my big brother and even though we get on really well, I’ve always missed another girl in my house.” – Irati

Irati hoped for a little sister and wound up spending the school year with two little sisters AND a little brother! She thoroughly enjoyed all the time she spent with them. From watching sporting events together to traveling across the country on family vacations, she’s fully embraced her host family and gets to count them as members of her extended family!



While we are sad to say goodbye, we are excited for our new students to arrive! In a few months, they’ll have the chance to live out everything they wrote about before arrival. We can’t wait to hear about them watching their first football game, picking out Halloween costumes, and teaching their host families about where they’re from.

If you are interested in joining one of our students on the adventure of a lifetime, visit our photolisting and learn about the students who are still available to be hosted! Reach out to info@saeglobal.org with any questions!

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ACE Promo

Announcing ACE – A New Exchange Program!

Participating in exchange programs carries many benefits, such as learning about a new culture and acquiring or improving a new language. Working with our students from around the world, we have seen this firsthand. While one of the more obvious goals is for students to learn about a new culture, they also wind up learning so much about themselves. It has been such an honor to play a small role in this personal growth for students coming to the US, and we look forward to doing so for years to come. However, we’re also passionate about giving that opportunity to students in America who are curious to learn more about themselves and world around them. That’s why we are so excited to be launching ACE – our very first outbound exchange program!

What is ACE?

We are thrilled to be returning to our roots for ACE, which stands for Adoptee Cultural Exchange. Alongside our parent company, Great Wall China Adoption, we have partnered with a leading international adoption agency in Spain to create an exchange opportunity between Chinese adoptees living in the United States and Spain.

The exchange will take place this summer. First, American children will travel to enjoy 3 weeks in Spain. They will live with a family who has also adopted from China. Then, children from both countries will return to the United States to share another 3 weeks of vacation together. Through 6 weeks of summer fun, each child has the opportunity to share feelings and experiences with another child who has traveled the same journey as them. The children will be hosted in homes where adoption and everything it entails is treated as normal.

International adoption can involve confusion in identity and belonging for the child. Experiencing a new culture will allow the adoptees to better internalize that difference is positive and enriching. In their daily lives, they are accustomed to experiencing cultural similarity and physical differences. With ACE, the similarities will be physical and the differences cultural. It is our hope that this will aid the children in their process of cultural and ethnic identification.

Program Details

This program is open to any Chinese adoptee between the ages of 14 and 19. The American children will travel to Spain on July 2, 2018. They’ll return to the US with their Spanish counterpart on July 23. The Spanish children will remain until August 12. 

Families will pay a fee of $2,500. This includes program facilitation, insurance, flights, room and board for the child while in Spain, and 24/7 support from GWCA and ACI.

Questions? Click here for more information or to receive a copy of our info packet. We are so excited to be starting this journey and hope that you will join us!

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Summer Fun for Everyone

It’s getting hot outside, and that can only mean one thing: we are getting close to summer break! Soon, kids all over the world will be trading homework for fun in the sun. Everyone has a favorite summer activity, whether it’s swimming, sports, watermelon eating contests, or enjoying a good book inside with AC! And just like American kids, our exchange students have their preferred ways to enjoy the summer.

Summer FunPenny from China loves to swim when it’s hot outside. In addition to being able to cool off, she says it’s a great way to stay strong. You’re more likely to find Federico from Spain inside during the summer, where he’s reading books, watching films (his favorite genre is horror) or listening to The Beatles and Bob Dylan. Amos enjoys playing soccer in his home country of China, but he says he’s hoping to learn basketball in the US. When it gets too hot outside at home, you might find him practicing calligraphy that his grandfather taught him. Maybe he could teach you a thing or two! Ana from Spain spends her summer traveling and playing as many sports as possible – her favorites are basketball and tennis.

While our students have different interests, they all have the same dream of spending a year in the United States with a loving host family. They can’t wait to go for a hike with you, learn your favorite sport, and just become another member of the family. SAE is recruiting host families all summer long – reach out today to keep the fun continuing all throughout the 2018/19 school year!

To learn more about our students and all of their diverse interests, check out our photolisting here!

Or, if you’re ready to host one of these awesome students, fill out a free host family application here.

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What are Welcome Families?

As summer draws to an end, our exchange students are getting so excited to come to the United States! While many of our students are matched with families who will be hosting them for the entire school year, we understand that some families are not able to commit for the full 10 month program. If your family has prior obligations during the school year or if you’re not quite sure you’re ready to host for a full year, SAE always welcomes short term host families!

Hosting a student as a welcome family is just one way to get involved in cultural exchange. As a welcome family, you serve as the bridge between a student’s culture and the United States. Welcome families host for 1-2 months and play an important role in helping students adapt to life in the United States! At the end of this period, the student moves in with a host family who will host them for the remainder of the school year. Most of the time, that permanent family will be located in the same school district as you, so you are still able to keep in touch with that student and be a part of their journey in America.

The best way to meet the students participating is by visiting our photolisting! If you’re interested in learning how to become a welcome family or a host family, inquire about one of our students or contact our Program Coordinators today!

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why student exchange

Tell Us Why Student Exchange Was Important to You!

why student exchange

We interview students to tell us about why student exchange was so important – from what it’s like, to what they miss, to what they loved. It gives an inside peek to the student’s mentality and helps families understand how amazing it is to be a part of this journey with the student!

Tell us why you wanted to study abroad:

I wanted to learn another language, experience another culture, and open myself up to new ideas. Growing up in a small town, I was always curious about the world around me, and student exchange seemed like an amazing way to really become a part of the world.

Do you keep in touch with anyone you met studying abroad?

Yes!! I’m actually meeting up with a friend I met from study abroad tomorrow – we are still close years later and keep in touch. I have a few great friends that I made out of studying abroad, and it really helps me stay connected to all of the things I learned and love while living there.

What did you miss most from home?

I’ll never tell them this…but my parents! I cried at first and definitely missed my mom, but the more I got used to being away, the easier it became to be excited to share my new experiences with her rather than spend my time missing home. I also never thought about how easy it is to get around when everyone speaks the same language as you. Trying to navigate my new town the first few weeks was terrifying – but it forced me to use my language skills! I came out so much strong because of this.

What was the coolest thing you did or saw when you studied abroad?

Seeing all of the history of this place I had never been to before was so amazing. You learn the history of your own country, and you know about the history of others, but once you really see it you begin to understand how other cultures and countries came to be the way they are.

If you could give one piece of advice to another exchange student, what would it be?

Be open to anything – it will all seem scary until you try it. Studying abroad is the perfect time to try things you might be too timid or scared to do at home. Make a new friend, say a new word, whatever it is – just do it!

Want to tell us why student exchange was important to you? Send us your stories! Email us at info@saeglobal.org to send us a story or if you’re interested in being a part of a student’s life through hosting! Visit our photolisting to meet the students waiting for their life to change with the journey of student exchange.

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