#SAEstories: Meet Greg!

It goes without saying, every student we meet is different. It starts with reading their letter and seeing their photo, but SAE staff really get to know our students during one of the most exciting parts of the intial application – the Skype interview. The interview allows us to get to know each student a little better, hear their English skills, and of course gives us a chance to place them in the best possible situation here in the States. Most students start off a little shy, but they eventually open up and start showing us a bit of their personalities. These interviews take us beyond paper applications and help us figure out who these students are and use that information to find them great host families. In order to help host families find a student who would be a great match in their home, we decided to offer a glimpse into our process and highlight a different student each week.  This week, we are starting off with Greg, a 17 year old from China who is hoping to spend the 12th grade in the United States.

When Greg answered our Skype call, there was already an infectious grin on his face.  He was pretty proud of his American basketball knowledge; he showed off all his basketball posters and even pulled a Michael Jordan statue out from under his desk!  We got to see his sense of humor as he reasoned that he enjoys cooking mainly because he enjoys eating.  When asked about school, Greg told us that he loves physics and most other science classes but thinks that calculus is “the most boring class ever.” Just like a teenager! He even showed off his knowledge of the United States by asking us about various recent policy changes and offering his own opinions.

Greg would probably get along well with just about any family. He is outgoing, curious, and friendly. However, a host family with another basketball fan would probably make for an incredible bond! If you like Chinese food, Greg would love to prepare some of his specialties for you.

To hear more about Greg and our other incredible 2016/17 students, reach out to a Program Coordinator today and start writing your #SAEstories!

Due to Department of State regulations, we cannot post photos of our students until they are officially placed with a host family and enrolled for the school year. If you’d like additional information on Greg or any of other other hosting students, please get in touch with us at emily@saeglobal.org!
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The Benefits of Hosting an Exchange Student

Are you interested in learning about another culture? Interested in sharing your own? Perhaps it’s time you applied to be a Host Family for an International Exchange Student! Immersing oneself in a culture other than their own has a fantastic amount of positive benefits for the host, the student, and the community as a whole.

By Hosting an exchange student you can expect to…

  • Learn more about a different culture and its customs
  • Share your own culture
  • Make a life long friend
  • Enrich your community with a students international perspective
Lucy with Santa Claus
chen pic blog
Birthday 2
Lucy Bubbles (resize)
Host Family

Student Ambassador Exchange is currently accepting Host Family Applications for the Fall 2016/Spring 2017 school semesters! Hosting a student allows a family to create life long friendships and cultural ties through the avenues of public diplomacy, and the exchange of culture. If you’re interested in hosting one of our students and would like some more information, please contact us at info@saeglobal.org


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Introducing Our 2016/17 Students

Meet eight students who are already looking forward to spending the next school year in the US!



Nancy from China
Gender: Female
Age: 17
Hobbies: badminton, drawing,
and running
Read My Bio!


Maggie from China
Gender: Female
Age: 15
Hobbies: music, reading,
swimming, and biking
Read My Bio!

Demi from China
Gender: Female
Age: 16
Hobbies: hip-hop, fashion, and cooking
Read My Bio!

Esther from China
Gender: Female
Age: 17
Hobbies: basketball, piano,
and exploring new places
Read My Bio!

Bo from China
Gender: Male
Age: 15
Hobbies: swimming, drums,
and tennis
Read My Bio!
Greg from China
Gender: Male
Age: 17
Hobbies: basketball, cooking,
and music
Read My Bio!

Raphael from China
Gender: Male
Age: 16
Hobbies: soccer, swimming, reading, and photography
Read My Bio!

Andy from China
Gender: Male
Age: 15
Hobbies: basketball, chess, cinema, and math
Read My Bio!
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Chinese Holidays in 2016

Student Ambassador Exchange fosters the intercultural exchange of people around the world. One of our most popular interests is from China, a country that sent nearly 700,000 students abroad in 2012. With Christmas right around the corner, we thought it would be interesting to share some of the upcoming Chinese holidays. Should you run into a Chinese exchange student, perhaps you can talk about what they like to do for these holidays!


1. Tomb Sweeping Day: The Qingming or Ching Ming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day in English, is a traditional Chinese Festival on the first day of the fifth solar term of the traditional Chinese lunisolar  calendar. This makes it the 15th day after the Spring Equinox either 4th or 5th of April in a given year. The Qingming Festival is an opportunity for celebrants to remember and honour their ancestors at grave sites. Young and old pray before the ancestors, sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, and other libations to their ancestors.

This picture taken on February 14, 2014 shows Chinese villagers perform a dragon dance to celebrate the lantern festival in Yongchuan, Chongqing municipality. The Lunar New Year festival ended on February 14 with the lantern festival, and also coinciding with Valentine's Day. CHINA OUT AFP PHOTO (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

2. Chinese New Year: It’s well known that the New Year is January 1st, however, in China February 8th will mark the day the Chinese calendar begins. This holiday will usher in 7 days of celebration where windows and doors will be decorated with red color paper cups and couplets with popular themes of good fortune, happiness, wealth, and longevity. Other activities include lighting firecrackers and giving money in red paper envelopes.


3. Dragon Boat Festival: The Dragon Boat Festival is a celebration where many eat rice dumplings (zongzi), drink regular wine (xionghuangjiu), and race dragon boats. This festival takes place on June 9th, where  other activities include hanging icons of Zhong Kui (a mythic guardian figure), hanging mugwort and calamus, taking long walks, writing spells and wearing perfumed medicine bags.

China has many holidays lined up for next year, look here to find out more!

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International Holidays in December

December is here, and this time of year, everyone knows about Christmas and the New Year! In America and much of the western world these holidays tend to afford the most focus from people during this final month of the year, and lets not forget Hanukkah which is currently in full swing! Here at Student Ambassador Exchange we hope to share a global perspective through cultural exchange and lived experiences. We’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of international holidays in December. Perhaps you’ll find one that you wish to celebrate in the future!

Dongzhi Festival
1. Dongzhi Festival: This festival is celebrated in many East Asian countries including China, Korea, Japan, and Vietnam. The Festival celebrates the Winter Solstice, an astrological phenomenon where the Northern Hemisphere experiences the shortest day and longest night of the year. Speaking generally this is a time for family to come together and reflect upon the yin and yang philosophy of balance and harmony in the cosmos. The Festival tends to fall around the 22nd of December.

Saint Lucia Day Sweden
2. St. Lucia’s Day in Nordic Europe: In Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland, Lucy (called Lucia) is venerated on December 13 in a ceremony where a girl is elected to portray Lucia. Wearing a white gown with a red sash and a crown of candles on her head, she walks at the head of a procession of women, each holding a candle. Even boys take part in the procession as well, playing different roles associated with Christmas. It is said that to vividly celebrate St. Lucia’s Day will help one live the long winter days with enough light. This holiday is held on December 13th.

International Solidarity Day
3. International Solidarity Day of Azerbaijanis: Inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall, the nationalist Popular Front of Azerbaijan called for and lead the removal of borders between Soviet Azerbaijan and Iran on December 31, 1989. This has since been celebrated by Azerbaijanis around the world as the International Solidarity Day of Azerbaijanis and is a public holiday in Azerbaijan. This holiday falls on the 31st of December.

International Human Rights Day in Cambodia
4. International Human Rights Day in Cambodia: This national holiday was established to commemorate the United Nations General Assembly’s adoption and proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This day is celebrated on the 10th of December, and is usually marked by collective assembly and marches in many main cities across the country.

Finnish Independence Day
5. Independence Day in Finland: Finish Independence day is celebrated on December 6th. Following the Russian Revolutions of 1917, Finish parliamentarians drafted a declaration of independence from Russian dominion. The Presidential Independence Day reception is held for approximately 2000 invited guests at the Presidential Palace. This event, known informally also as Linnanjuhlat (“the Castle Ball”), is broadcast on national television and has been a perennial favorite of the viewing public.

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One Student’s Dream!

We are looking for an amazing host family for the last student remaining in our Spring 2016 Semester Program. We’ve nicknamed him “O” because it sounds like his first name, and he’s a total sweetheart. He’s smart, kind, and outgoing, according to the sweet letter we received from his father, and in his own words, “O” is hoping “that I can improve my English and study hard to fulfill my dream” of studying in America.

One of our amazing exchange students already studying in the US this year!

As a host family, you’ll need to provide a welcoming and supportive home for the exchange student throughout the semester. Families are strongly encouraged to think of their students as full-fledged members of the family, not as guests. Key host family responsibilities include:

Oliver trying TexMex with the family ♥ Providing three daily meals, plus snacks
♥ Engaging in family activities
♥ Communicating with the student and SAE
♥ Attending mandatory SAE meetings
♥ Arranging transportation to/from school and activities

To apply to become a host family please fill out the short contact us form to the right! We’d love to tell you more about O, his dream, and his journey here to the United States.

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International Education Week

The Departments of State and Education declared last week to be International Education Week.  We like to think that we celebrate this every week, but we welcome the occasion to reflect on our experiences and appreciate all the good that can come from international exchanges.

International Education Week celebrates the ways that study abroad programs enrich lives all around the world. From the American students that go abroad and the foreign students that travel here to the host families around the world that open their homes to these students, each participant is forever changed. International education strengthens our global ties, and teaches younger generations to look beyond their own countries and interact with the world around them. Host families are vital to these exchanges. By opening their doors to students they have never met before, they are showing kindness that will forever be remembered when the student thinks of the United States. On a small scale this may seem insignificant – just a friendly interaction. However, on a larger scale, this makes a big difference in the world of international relations.

Many of us at Student Ambassador Exchange had the opportunity to study abroad.  One of the most rewarding aspects of the exchange was getting to visit historical sites and have a personal experience with events that shaped our world history.  From climbing pyramids in Mexico to walking where the Berlin Wall once separated Germany, these experiences gave us an education that a textbook could never offer. We believe it is vital that students around the world have access to these experiences. We are proud to play a small role in helping students go abroad and go beyond a typical education.  In closing, we think First Lady Michelle Obama describes the importance of international education best: “Investing in the potential of all  young people, through access to a well-rounded, world class global education, is an investment in our collective future.” To all students, teachers, host families, and people who have played a role in helping us facilitate these exchanges: thank you for your investment.

For more information on International Education Week, visit the official website: http://eca.state.gov/programs-initiatives/international-education-week


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The Journey Thus Far

Andrea Smiling

It’s a long flight from China to Texas. Depending on where IN China you are flying from, some estimates put the trip at 23 hours of non-stop flight. When Andrea arrived at Austin Bergstrom International Airport, signs of travel fatigue were anything but noticeable as she beamed at her new host family. Despite her cultural differences and language barrier, Andrea now has an exciting opportunity to experience a new world in the United States of America. She will afford the chance to learn about American culture, Texas culture, and improve her English language skills as she fully immerses herself in the American academic system.

One interesting aspect of traveling is seeing and learning about the holidays that are celebrated in comparison to your own. Yifei has been with her host-family in Columbia, Missouri since August of 2015 and has already significantly immersed herself. In mid-July, the Chinese celebrate the “Hungry Ghost Festival” where it is customary to float river lanterns to remember those who have died. Compared with the American holiday of Halloween there are obviously some differences, however, it still afforded a fun opportunity for Yifei to adorn an absolutely stellar witch costume.

Halloween with Host Sister & Host Cousin

Student Ambassador Exchange promotes and supports any and all students interested in participating in our programs of cultural exchange. With 2015 coming to an end, Andrea and Yifei have nearly six months behind them, with another exciting 6 months ahead. New Years, Valentines Day, St. Patricks Day, so many more interesting opportunities that will undoubtedly give them a broader perspective on the world.

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Meet our Spring 2016 Exchange Students

The school year may have just started, but we are already preparing for the months ahead. We are looking forward to welcoming more exchange students to the United States. We are currently seeking host families for two Chinese students who will be arriving in early January and leaving in late May or early June, depending on your local high school’s academic calendar.  This is a perfect opportunity for families who are unable to host a student for an entire school year but are still interested in taking part in a cultural exchange.

These students are both coming on our J-1 program, so there are no stipends available for host families. However, as a reminder, host families may claim a tax exemption of up to $50 for each month the student remains in their home.

Here is some more information on our two students seeking host families:

Jenny is a 16 year old girl who has been dreaming of coming to the United States for quite some time. She is curious about American culture and can’t wait to experience it firsthand. Her hobbies include dancing, gardening, playing with animals, and reading. Jenny says that her studies tend to get in the way of her hobbies, but she’s hoping that her semester in the United States will give her an opportunity to have a better work/play balance.
James is an outgoing 16 year old boy who is eager to start his American adventure! He is active and tries to play basketball every day, but he is just as happy reading a good book, spending time with his friends, or playing games on his computer. Family is very important to James, and he can’t wait to be a part of a new family in the United States.

For photos and more information on either of these students, send an email to emily@saeglobal.org or fill out a form on our website requesting more information. Don’t pass up this amazing opportunity to learn about another culture from the comfort of your own home!

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Would We Be a Good Host Family?


If you’re considering hosting an exchange student, you probably have a lot of questions. To help you decide if becoming a host family is the right decision for you, we’ve compiled a list of the most frequent questions we receive from potential host families. We understand that every situation is unique, so please feel free to call us to get some more personalized information about hosting.

What is the difference between the J-1 hosting program and the F-1 homestay program?

We think both of our programs are great, but there are some differences that you should consider before deciding to apply for either one.

The J-1 program is our biggest program, and we are recruiting host families all over the country for that. Students who apply for this program will be enrolled at the public school closest to your house. If that school does not have room, they will be placed at a different high school somewhere in your school district. The J-1 Visa Exchange Visitor Program was designed by the Department of State to encourage an exchange of cultures.  They believe that offering a stipend to host families would compromise the cultural exchange, so host families are not allowed to be reimbursed. Students will bring funds to cover their own entertainment and non-essential purchases, and they come with their own medical insurance that will cover any emergencies or illnesses. Host families are expected to provide 3 meals a day (except on school days, when students may opt to purchase lunch at school) and cover basic living expenses.

The F-1 program is intended for students who want to attend private school. Currently, we are recruiting host families in the Austin, Houston, and Dallas areas for this program.  Because the students attend school on an F-1 visa, we are able to offer a stipend of $750 each month to host families. Host families are expected to cover meals and basic living expenses. In addition, they are responsible for transporting the student to and from school.

We already have a family vacation planned. Could we take an exchange student?

As long as the vacation is within the United States, you can definitely take your student with you! Just send our office the information so we know where you are. If the trip involves extra fees that you expect the student to cover, make sure the student has received permission from his or her parents. If you have an international vacation planned, there are extra steps to take. You’ll need to make sure the student has permission from their parents. Then, you’ll want to research what it takes for your student to get a travel visa. Keep in mind that if they meet all the requirements to leave the country with you, you’ll need to send us their visa paperwork to sign and approve travel.

We’re a very busy family. Will we have time to host an exchange student?

Americans are generally busy people! Between work, school, and recreational activities, it may seem like your family has no extra time to spare.  However, keep in mind that your exchange student will probably be just as busy as you.  We don’t expect families to drop everything to accommodate a student – just include them in your daily life!  As long as at least one parent is home on evenings and weekends, hosting should not be a huge burden.  Families should be aware that the week leading up to the beginning of school is bound to be exciting and stressful at times, but with the right preparation it will not be a problem.  Plus, you’ll have a Local Coordinator and the Student Ambassador Exchange team behind you the whole time!

How much support will we receive once the student arrives?

Once you have applied to be a host family, you will be assigned a Local Coordinator who will help guide you through the entire process.  They will conduct a home visit and facilitate a host family orientation to prepare you for the arrival of your student. They will even be at the airport with you to greet your student for the first time! Your Local Coordinator will check in with you and the student at least once a month to see how things are going and troubleshoot any potential problems. In addition, a Student Ambassador Exchange staff member will be available 24/7 to help out with any emergencies or answer any questions the Local Coordinator is unable to resolve.  At least once per semester, the Local Coordinator will come visit you in person to make sure everything is going well.  All staff members have been fully trained both by our organization and the Department of State, and are ready to help guide you through this exciting experience!

What if we have a family emergency and are no longer able to host?

While we would like to avoid moving a student as much as we possibly can, we understand that emergencies do occur that call for a change in plans. Rest assured that if you have a sudden emergency, such as a death in the family, Student Ambassador Exchange will be there to help you and, if necessary, will move your student to a backup family for the rest of the year or until you are able to host again.

Students won’t be arriving until next August. When should we submit a host family application?

You can submit a host family application anytime! We will be accepting student applications on a rolling basis and are hoping to begin matching students with families this winter. The sooner you send in an application, the more time we have to place you with a student who will be an excellent match for your family!

Of course, these questions do not cover everything that you need to know to be a host family. Please feel free to send us an email or give us a call – we would love to discuss the possibility of being a host family with you!

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