Elections Around the World

It’s election day in America! Whether you voted early or are planning on casting your ballot today, we all have a say in what our government will look like over the next two years. Exchange students who are spending the year here have the unique opportunity to see democracy in action. For some perspective, we took a look at what elections are like in their home countries.


Every four years, Spanish citizens vote to elect representatives in the Senate and the Congress of Deputies. The Prime Minister is traditionally chosen from the party that holds the most seats in Congress. There are also regional and municipal elections every four years, but those dates can vary. Many regions hold their elections the May before a leap year (so the next election would be in May 2019), but others choose their own election dates and as a result their voting years vary. Separately, they also vote to send members to the European Parliament.


Chinese citizens have a chance to vote in local elections, and their votes impact how leaders of the country are chosen. Every five years, they vote for their Local People’s Congress. In turn, the Local People’s Congresses elect members of the Local People’s Government. The Local People’s Government in turn votes for members of the National People’s Congress, and the National People’s Congress is responsible for selecting the National People’s Government.

With each country having elections that are so different, it’s possible that exchange students will be a little confused watching the results come in. This is a great opportunity for them to learn about voting and elections, and also what it means to be American. Our right to vote is something that we as Americans treasure, regardless of party alliances. While hosting an exchange student involves sharing in the little things like family traditions, shared recipes, and the differences in everyday life, this is one of the few opportunities to share in something big. Getting to watch an election from a foreign country gives students an inside look at what it means to be an American.

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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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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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Student Interviews: Meet Ed!

It’s been so fun receiving exchange student applications and looking at the wonderful group of students we are placing for the 2018-2019 academic year! In addition to the applications they submit, we conduct interviews with each student over Skype to get to know them and learn more about them. Each kid is different in their own way, and interviews are the perfect time for them to shine! Learn more from our interview with Ed, below!

Student Interviews: Meet Ed!


Ed is a well rounded kid who was fun to interview!

Q: Tell me about your family.

A: My family is very kind. I live with my father and mother, and my grandmother also lives with us.


Q: What is your favorite subject in school?

A: English. I think it’s important to learn English and different languages are good to know.


Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

A: I would like to fly!


Q: If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?

A: The United States of course! Also, I would like to go to Japan.


If you’d like more information on hosting Ed, reach out to a Program Coordinator at info@saeglobal.org! You can also visit our photolisting to see more about Ed or any of the other exchange students.

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Student Letters: Meet Federico

Each of our exchange student’s write a unique letter to their future host family, and these letters are a great way to get a feel for their personality and lifestyle. Take a look at Federico’s letter below!

Student Letters: Meet Federico!


Dear host family,

My name is Federico, but everyone calls me Fede. I am 16 years old now and I will be 17 the next september 3rd., so I will celebrate my next birthday in USA. My family and friends describe me as a spontaneous, creative and fun person. I live in Spain with my older brother Miguel and my father.

I am the third of 5 siblings, I have three sisters and one brother. My two little sisters live in Chile with my mother, her name is Daniela and she works designing purse and bags. She also paints and do pottery.

I am a responsible and orderly person, within the family environment I always try to do everything in a good mood. With my father and my bother I always spend very good times and I laugh a lot. I’m the one who cooks the most in my house because I like it a lot, as much as cooking as eating and trying new types of food. My favorite type of food is indian food, I love currys, and even I love healthy food as vegetables and fruits.

I did a 2 years cinema course where I learned photography and recording methods and many other important things about cinema, that I loved. I am the president of the school board of my school. For me, culture and art are very important because in my family it has always been given a lot of importance and I have been educated on it. I belong to a family of artist, my paternal grandfather was a realist painter and my grandmother also painted and my grandmother also painted and wrote books. one of
them is been launch next week in Madrid and talks about the life of his family in New York after the Spanish civil war. My great uncle is Federico Garcia Lorca, a poet and a writer from the 27 generation of the XX century in spain.

I love drawing, writing, listening to music, watching movies and taking photos. I like hang out with my friend, we used to spend time together in our houses, going to cinema, art shows, hiking in the mountains and most of all skiing.

I am a person of easy coexistence, with desire to know new cultures and new people, I know how to cook and I do not mind helping with household chores. I am clean neat and respectful. In my day to day what frustrates me most and I find it difficult are the math and physics which are two subjects that cost me a lot because I consider myself to be a more creative and artistic person.

One obstacle that I had to overcome was the separation of my parents which was very painful for me, but I decided to see the positive side and face that situation and enjoy the best of both. I’m still not quite sure what I want to study but I would like something like design or audiovisual. I look forward to living the experience of a school year in USA which my father and my brother already lived, I think this experience is going to be very rewarding for both me and my host family. I am looking forward to get to know you and I am very thankful that you consider hosting me for one year, I hope be part of
your family.



If you think Federico would be a great match for your family, read more about him on our photolisting and reach out to a Program Coordinator at info@saeglobal.org today!

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Student Interviews: Meet Maria!

It’s been so fun receiving exchange student applications and looking at the wonderful group of students we are placing for the 2018-2019 academic year! In addition to the applications they submit, we conduct interviews with each student over Skype to get to know them and learn more about them. Each kid is different in their own way, and interviews are the perfect time for them to shine! Learn more from our interview with Maria, below!

Student Interviews: Meet Maria!


Maria is a sweet and quirky girl who is sure to make you smile!

Q: Tell me about yourself.

A: I love to skate very much. I also like animals, drawing, and I like to make crafts.


Q: What is your favorite food?

A: Oh that is hard to choose. I like cookies,  and also soup.


Q: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

A: I would read the minds of people.


Q: Are you ready to participate in host family life?

A: Yes! I’m very excited for that.


If you’d like more information on hosting Maria, reach out to a Program Coordinator at info@saeglobal.org! You can also visit our photolisting to see more about Maria or any of the other exchange students.

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