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Exploring Cultural Bridges.

In an increasingly interconnected world, exchanging ideas, cultures, and experiences has become more accessible than ever. One of the most enriching ways to engage in this exchange is by meeting and interacting with exchange students. These individuals bring with them not just their luggage, but a treasure trove of diverse perspectives, traditions, and stories waiting to be shared. Engaging with exchange students offers a unique opportunity for personal growth, cultural understanding, and forging lasting connections.

The Application Process for Students.

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending a Zoom call with exchange students from Africa, Slovakia, and Asia. These young people were charming, spoke good English, and were grateful to be a part of the exchange program. During the call, the students shared their experiences of applying to be a part of the Greenheart Exchange Program. The application process includes meeting certain eligibility criteria, taking tests, and participating in interviews. After completing the application process, the students must wait for a host family to be found.

Host Parenting

If you are asked whether you are interested in being a host family, it might seem a little overwhelming. However, it is important to know that the students come with their own spending money and insurance. The Host Family is only required to provide a bed (they may share a room with a host sibling of the same gender and similar age), a place to study, meals, transportation if needed, and a caring family.

Breaking Down Barriers

Hosting exchange students provides a chance to break down cultural barriers that may exist between people from different parts of the world. By engaging in conversations and activities together, stereotypes and misconceptions can be dispelled, fostering mutual respect, and understanding. Experiencing firsthand other culture's customs, traditions, and everyday life can broaden one's perspective and challenge preconceived notions.

Cultural Exchange

Exchange students often bring aspects of their culture that they are eager to share. From traditional cuisine to music, dance, and festivals, a wealth of cultural richness is waiting to be discovered. Participating in cultural exchange activities such as cooking traditional meals together, attending cultural performances, or celebrating festivals can be incredibly rewarding and educational for your whole family.

Language Learning

Have you always wanted to speak French?  Host a student from France!  Interacting with exchange students provides an excellent opportunity to practice and improve language skills. Whether through casual conversation, language exchange sessions, or language-focused activities, engaging with native speakers in their language can significantly enhance language proficiency. Moreover, learning a language in a real-life context allows a deeper understanding of its nuances and cultural connotations.

Building Lifelong Connections

One of the most valuable aspects of meeting exchange students is the potential to form meaningful and lasting friendships. Shared experiences, mutual interests, and the excitement of exploring a new environment can create strong bonds that transcend geographical boundaries. These friendships enrich one's personal life and create networks that span the globe, opening doors to future opportunities and collaborations.

Enhancing Global Citizenship

Engaging with exchange students promotes the development of global citizenship values such as empathy, tolerance, and intercultural competence. By appreciating and respecting cultural differences, individuals become better equipped to navigate an increasingly diverse and interconnected world. This global mindset is essential for addressing global challenges, fostering peace, and promoting cooperation on a worldwide scale.

There are hundreds of kids overseas waiting to be assigned to their host family.  If you are interested or have questions about being a host family, please call or text your local Coordinator, Kelly Pelkey 682-651-7978