Today we interview Jane, one of our Local Coordinators, about her experience helping connect exchange students with host families!
1. What inspired you to become a Local Coordinator?
“My friend and his wife wanted to host an exchange student. They asked me to be their Local Coordinator, and I said yes! Also, I taught ESL for bilingual students at an elementary school for 15 years, and I love interacting with kids. Just talking to them is fun. This is my second year being a Local Coordinator, and I’m currently helping two students from China. Being a Local Coordinator is tremendously different than what I expected because I had never thought about working with exchange students before. However, now I’m thinking of hosting a student myself in the future!”
2. What do you find rewarding about the position? Have you experienced any challenges?
“The best part about this position is watching the kids grow emotionally and gain confidence in their English. By the end of the year, they can talk like typical teenagers. Also, I’ve learned about other cultures by spending time with the students and talking about their family and life back home. I learn based on what the kids share with me.
Last year I didn’t experience any challenges, but this year one of the students has been pushing more rules. It’s nothing major though, and this is typical high school age behavior, especially for kids who are away from their parents. They’re all good kids!”
3. Do you have any funny or interesting stories to share from working with families and students?
“One of my students right now had never seen a bonfire before, and he was initially horrified when his host family set up a campfire in their backyard. He didn’t understand why setting a yard on fire was considered entertainment, since there are no fireplaces or grills where he lives in China. Once his host family explained the purpose of a campfire though, he had a great time sitting around it roasting marshmallows.
Another one of my students went to IHOP for the first time and had never used coffee creamer before. She actually drank the creamer straight from the container! These are all customs we take for granted living in America but are new for exchange students.”
4. If you could give advice to someone considering to be a Local Coordinator, what would it be?
“I would advise them to be patient. The challenge is getting students here and helping them settle in with their families. You have to go with the flow and roll with it when things change very quickly, such as when their arrival times are delayed. Also, you have to be able to let parents vent to you. A lot of the time, they just want someone to listen to them and not necessarily give advice.
I’ve had a great experience as a Local Coordinator though, and I love meeting families and students and making new connections. Hosting is a great experience for everyone!”
Are you interested in becoming a Local Coordinator? Student Ambassador Exchange is now hiring Local Coordinators across the US to place exchange students with host families and serve as a liaison between them! This is an amazing opportunity to make new connections and learn about other cultures. For more details about the position, visit our website or contact LC@saeglobal.org today!