Did you ever think about going abroad or having a student from another country live with your family for a month or longer? Well, my mother, who works for International Student Exchange, filled me in on what it would be like. She was a foreign exchange student when she was a teen-ager, and has been working with exchange students for many years.
International Student Exchange brings students from Bolivia, Brazil, Columbia, Egypt, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Spain, Thailand, Turkey, and Yugoslavia to the United States to attend school for a school year or to be part of a group which comes for a month. They are between the ages of 15 and 18. Students coming to the U.S. must have at least a B average, some skill in English (they don't have to be fluent), be in good health, and be mature and responsible. They are carefully screened in their home country.
A group of 20 Mexican students will be coming to my hometown of Sharon in July for a month. When the students finally get here, they will go to school four mornings a week for three hours. They will be perfecting their English and learning American History and culture. On the fifth day, they will take trips in the Boston area. I told my mother that they should definitely go to the JFK Library.
My mother's job is to find a home for each of the students and match the American family with a compatible student. What a great way to learn about another country! International Student Exchange is different from other student exchange programs in that it is very small and personal. I like that idea because, if my mother will let me be an exchange student to France, I feel better knowing that there is someone like her to watch over me when I get to my French family. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.