Each year, our dedicated Local Coordinators share their love for student exchange with the families and schools in their communities, and together they make our students’ dreams come true. Our team is there to provide support and guidance, but they quickly realize there is so much to learn too! Jennie, one of our passionate Local Coordinators, shares the things she’s learned through her years of working in exchange.
“I became a Local Coordinator 15 years ago. I always enjoyed volunteering and working with teenagers, and one day I came across an ad looking for Local Coordinators. I absolutely love what I do. I always like to have a big group of students in my community each year. I find that having multiple exchange students in the area helps because our students have someone to relate to who’s close by. We plan meet-ups and they’re able to make friends not only with American teenagers but with each other. They get to learn about other countries as well as learning about the United States.
I know that for every person who has hosted a student from another country, their lives will never be the same. I keep in touch with everyone who has hosted, even just once, and they all talk about how it changed their perspective on the world. Which I think is the whole point of the program, and it’s why we do the work we do. We know it changes their world, even if it’s just a little part of the bigger world. This program changes schools, families, and communities, little by little. I think I have some of the best families, I have families of all shapes and sizes: families with kids, single families with no kids. Families don’t often realize it but our exchange students are such good influences on their own kids. They speak English very well, they’re very intelligent and motivated at school, and they like helping their classmates and host siblings. I think a lot of families think they need to always be doing things with their students but I say even taking them to your daughter’s recital is a big deal. It’s something they’ve never done before, and it’s a very big thing for them. Just taking a student with them to the grocery store when they go shopping is such a big deal for our students. When host parents share their lives with their students, it’s really exciting and fun for those students to see and better understand their host family, and vice versa. For instance, a family may know nothing about a country like Estonia! So they get to learn so much from their student too.
Our teachers and schools also play an important role in our students’ experiences. I have a student who is amazed at how when he has a question, the teachers come over, sit down, and talk him through it. He says that would never happen where he’s from. One girl was on Honor Roll at her high school here and she said before coming to the USA, she didn’t think of herself as intelligent, and she didn’t have plans to go to college. After the encouragement and support from her American teachers, she returned home to finish high school and go on to get her bachelor’s degree. And of course, our students love all the clubs and sports that are available to them. They want to try everything! Being able to try different things is a big deal for our students.
One of my favorite stories is about one of my first grant students. At the end of the year, I always ask my students what have they learned since being here. This one student told me that he learned self-confidence. I asked him if he hadn’t felt that way before he got here, and he said he had never even heard of the word and didn’t even know it was a thing. That’s what kept me going with our grant students because kids need to always know that they’re worthy, they’re intelligent, and what they say has worth. That’s why this is such a remarkable program.
I have a boy this year who before coming here, had no idea what Labor Day was. His host mom sent him to talk to the Chamber of Commerce to ask about their role in the holiday. He ended up putting American flags all over town, from one end to the other!
My favorite part of every year is our Christmas party. We have a big international potluck and each student brings a dish from their home country. We like them to make something that is something they would typically have around Christmas or another big holiday. When they share their food, they get to talk about what’s in the dish and their memories associated with the dish, like their mom making it when they were little. They talk about why the dish is important to them and their traditions. It makes the Christmas party the best party ever, and nobody ever wants to miss it. It’s so much fun and the food is so good!
Don’t miss out on the opportunity to bring your skills to the STS Foundation team, and open yourself and your community up to the world of student exchange. You’ll be surprised how much you have to give and how much you can learn! Join the STS Foundation team today and help in our mission to foster greater mutual understanding in our world and to empower young people to grow through the power of cultural exchange! Learn more about becoming a Local Coordinator.
At STS Foundation, we are proud to welcome the next generation of global citizens. To be an exchange student, it takes a special kind of young person to leave their home country and live in a foreign culture. Luckily, they have an amazing support system of host families, schools, and STS Foundation Local Coordinators waiting to welcome them. But living in a new country can be an adjustment, one that helps students to grow and mature throughout their time in the USA. Alba from Spain shares how her journey has been so far, and how she’s learned to embrace the experience.Read More
Each year, the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education encourage exchange students to participate in International Education Week (IEW). This is a week-long celebration that helps promote exchange in communities around the country and prepare Americans for a global environment. Ismail from Nigeria, a YES Scholarship student placed in Tennessee, embraced the challenge and did five presentations around his school and community! Here’s his IEW story.Read More
International Education Week (IEW), a collaborative effort between the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Department of Education, is designed to foster global understanding and engagement. Each year, STS Foundation students proudly participate in IEW, showcasing the diversity and richness of cultures through their exchange experience. Let’s delve into the stories of Ismail from Nigeria, Adam from Egypt, and Irana from Turkmenistan, who made significant contributions to the success of International Education Week.Read More
Our Local Coordinators come from all walks of life, but each one provides support, understanding, and passion for the program. Whether they have hosted before, or in Nicoletta’s case, been exchange students, they have a love for exchange that they love to share with those around them. Years after spending time abroad learning English, Nicoletta has returned to the world of exchange and shares her love for our American families and international students.Read More
Cultural exchange is a term that often conjures images of sending your child off to another country while you welcome an exchange student from another country into your home. While this perception is indeed a valid form of cultural exchange, it is essential to understand that cultural exchange does not require sending your child abroad. In this blog post, we’ll explore the true meaning of cultural exchange and how it can be experienced right within the comfort of your home.Read More
Each school year, thousands of everyday American families welcome exchange students into their hearts and homes. While our host families come in all different shapes and sizes, and they each have their own reasons for participating, one thing remains the same: the impact hosting has not only on their students, but their families and communities as well. Jodi and her husband have hosted students for a number of years, and today she shares their hosting story.Read More
Each year, our dedicated Local Coordinators share their love for student exchange with the families and schools in their communities, and together they make our students’ dreams come true. Our team is there to provide support and guidance, but they quickly realize there is so much to learn too! Jennie, one of our passionate Local Coordinators, shares the things she’s learned through her years of working in exchange.Read More
Each year, exchange students arrive to the USA, ready to jump right into life at American high schools. Whether they’re trying something new or continuing a passion, they can’t wait to make new friends and be part of their school community. For Inigo from Spain, he found a new way to enjoy his love of music. As a musician back in Spain, he had plenty of experience playing the saxophone. But upon arriving to the USA, he found a new way to play with his high school marching band. He shares how he prepared for his exchange year, and how his first few weeks in the USA have been.Read More
Each year, over 30,000 American families open their doors to exchange students, and each family has their own “why.” When you open your heart and home to a young person, you may be thinking about all the things you have to give them – a second family, a chance to live life as a typical American teenager, new experiences. But you’ll soon learn that you also have so much to gain. Host mom Bobbi shares how hosting over the years has given her family the gift of a new culture and an international family.Read More
When you become one of the thousands of families that host an exchange student each year, you may wonder, “Why isn’t everybody doing this?” For host dad Mike Carroll, it was that feeling that led him to join STS Foundation as a Local Coordinator, where he has gone on to give other families in his community the gift of a new culture and perspective. He shares his experiences both as a host and a Local Coordinator, and how it’s much more than culture that is exchanged when you welcome a young person into your community.Read More
In a world filled with technological advancements and instant connectivity, it’s easy to forget the power of simple, genuine human connections. The heartwarming stories of Melinda Krause and Claudia Werner Grassy remind us that true friendship can transcend time, distance, and cultural barriers. Their tale of a summer exchange program in the mid-1980s has not only shaped their lives but has also extended its legacy to the next generation.Read More
Are you ready to step out of your comfort zone, explore new horizons, and make unforgettable memories? Embarking on a high school exchange year is a thrilling adventure that promises personal growth, cultural immersion, and lifelong friendships. As you gear up for this transformative experience, let’s delve into the key aspects of preparation, including a unique suggestion that can significantly enhance your journey – having your family host an exchange student.Read More
Did you know that 66% of US households own a pet? For many exchange students, this is one of many cultural differences they encounter during their time spent in America. In some cultures, pets are very uncommon, and some students may even have fears of sharing their home with a furry friend. But with time and treats, exchange students and pets usually become fast friends, and students end up trying to find a way to sneak their host pet into their luggage when they return home.Read More
When you decide to welcome an exchange student into your heart and home, you may not know what to expect. Each journey and relationship is different, but each one is filled with learning, love, and memories that will last a lifetime. And sometimes students and host families don’t realize just how much of an impact their experiences together have had on them until years have passed. STS Foundation has been bringing American families and international students together since 1986, and we love seeing the long-term, global impact exchange has on us all.Read More
Every year, families across the USA welcome over 30,000 high school exchange students from all corners of the globe. The appeal of the USA as a destination for young learners is undeniable. From its world-class education system and diverse cultural landscape to its vibrant communities and vast extracurricular opportunities, there are numerous reasons why the USA remains the number one choice of destination for high school exchange students.Read More
Becoming a host family is a remarkable opportunity to open your doors, hearts, and minds to a new culture. Welcoming an exchange student into your home can be an enriching experience for both your family and the student. However, as a first-time host family, it’s natural to have questions about what to expect. In this blog post, we’ll guide you through the journey and highlight key aspects you can anticipate when hosting a high school exchange student.Read More
When young people say “Yes!” to the exchange experience, they’re saying “Yes!” to learning a new way of life, and that can be both exciting and scary. Vuk, a Future Leaders Exchange scholarship student from Serbia, took the leap and found he had a lot to learn about the world around him. He talks about how his year in the USA changed his perspective on the world.Read More
In this blog post, we share with you the transformative impact of international exchange students and the importance for American high schools to partner with organizations like STS Foundation to welcome these students into their classrooms.Read More
No matter your hosting story, it can be said that you learn a lot while also teaching you exchange student many things as well. Host mom Jill shares how hosting again years after her first time was a new experience, and all the things her family learned from having an international young person in her home.Read More
STS Foundation host families come in all different shapes and sizes, each one offering loving homes and unique experiences to exchange students from around the world. Whether you have a house full of kids or are empty nesters, everyone becomes a special kind of parent – a host parent – when they say yes to welcoming a young person into their hearts and homes. Host dad Jeff Jones shares how hosting has allowed him to have experiences as a dad he might not otherwise have had.Read More
Each year, over 30,000 American families make the decision to welcome exchange students into their hearts and homes for 5 to 10 months. While each family has their own story of how they joined the exchange community, they all have had unforgettable moments with their exchange students that have changed their lives forever. Host mom Heather shares her hosting story!Read More
When you become a host family for an exchange student, you invite the world into your home and community. You also provide a life-changing experience not only for your student, but for you and your family as well. By helping a young cultural ambassador experience life in the USA, you get a front-row seat to watch them grow, and to learn about another country and culture. The Winkles family in Texas has made a tradition of hosting exchange students for years now, and each student they’ve hosted has become part of their family. Host mom Laura shares how they first got started, and things she’s taken from hosting year after year.Read More
Each year, high school exchange students around the world prepare for their exchange year in America by attending orientations before leaving their home countries. At these events, students prepare for immersing themselves in a new culture and review the rules of the program. This year, members of the STS Foundation team were invited to join these events to share their perspectives on life in the USA and what to expect as an exchange student.Read More
Each year, American Councils for International Education hosts the Workshop for Youth Leaders in English Teaching (WYLET) for select exchange students taking part in the FLEX and YES scholarship programs. WYLET builds on the U.S. experience through an intensive, week-long training program for aspiring English language teachers in Washington, DC. Participating students also develop and practice important leadership skills such as public speaking, team-building, and goal-setting. Participants are expected to organize or participate in teaching English upon returning to their home communities.Read More
Each year, STS Foundation Local Coordinators all around the USA help foster and grow cultural exchange in their communities. They build lifelong friendships around the world while working with students, high schools, and families who open their hearts and homes to new cultures. Karley Ailin joined the STS Foundation team in Missouri and treasures the connections she’s made with her students and host families! Karley shares her story and how much she’s learned in her role as Local Coordinator with STS Foundation.Read More
After being accepted onto the program and preparing for her exchange experience, Elena crossed the Atlantic to join her host family in Indiana. Over the last 8 months, she has had the opportunity to pursue her interests and try new hobbies, all while exploring life in America. Elena shares with us what her experience of life as an American teenager has been like so far.Read More
In the United States, February is Black History Month. All around the country, schools and communities take this month to remember and celebrate important people and events in Black American history. Sali, an exchange student from Palestine, joined her school’s Black Student Union to learn more about Black American History and to take part in her school’s Black History Month events! Here’s what she had to say about her experience:Read More
For the past five months, Vlada has been a remarkable member of the Troutdale community in Oregon where she is spending her high school exchange year. Vlada is an exchange student from Estonia who discovered the American spirit of volunteerism and gave back to the community that welcomes her by participating in the Helping Hands Community Service Project with STS Foundation.Read More
Carlos is a high school student from Spain who came to the USA as an exchange student with STS Foundation. After going through a rigorous application process and months of preparation, Carlos finally hopped on a plane in August 2022 to fly across the Atlantic and meet his host family in Louisiana. Over the last 7 months, Carlos’ host family and friends have been showing him the American way of life and shares with us his experience.Read More
During his exchange year, Denys has been an active member of the community where he is spending his high school exchange year. Denys is an exchange student from Turkey who offered up his passions and talents to give back to the community that welcomes him by participating in the Helping Hands Community Service Project with STS Foundation. The bulk of Denys’s volunteering took place at his local library, as well as the town’s history museum. Here is what he shares about his volunteering experience.Read More
Each year, exchange students set goals for their exchange year. Whether it’s wanting to try new things, grow as a person, or learn new skills, we love seeing them work hard and reach their goals. For Paula from Spain, the goal was to break records. With a passion for swimming, Paula was excited when she found out her high school had a swim team and that she would have the chance to participate. She shares her achievements both in and out of the pool during her exchange year.Read More
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