Hosting Exchange Students Can Be Life Changing

Exchange students in a trip to Bandelier National Park. Courtesy photo

 

By CINDY PARKER, ERDT/SHARE!
Los Alamos

Hosting exchange students has changed our lives. It could change yours.  

Our family made the choice to host exchange students in the school year 2006-2007. It has been a wonderful experience and I am proud to say that we have hosted six very different students from Germany, Belgium, Spain and Mexico. It is so fundamental to who we are that when we recall a year or activity we usually remember it by which student we were hosting!

Wenzel, our very first German student brought us to laughter every day. Going from the house to the car was always a race to him as he would leap over the bush in the front yard to be the first one into the car. Charlie comes back to “home” from Belgium to relax with his second family every couple of years even though he is now in medical school. Our Deb from Germany is the daughter we never had. Living in a house full of men, this was refreshing! My boys learned how to treat a sister and she keeps coming back to visit!

We traipsed off to Europe as a family in 2012 with our two sons exploring with and visiting four of our exchange children. The cultural sharing and love between our families has grown over the years.

The Parker family in Switzerland with their exchange student Deb and her family. Courtesy photo

Although we are now empty nesters, we host at times because it keeps our hearts forever young whereas young families can encourage their own children to experience language and culture first hand as they host a high school student for a year.

Can’t go overseas right now, but want to expose your family to another culture? There are still many students who need a host family for 2015-16. In fact, there are still 130 students from our organization alone waiting for an American family to take them in for 10 months. Are you ready to give it a try? They come from various countries and have such varied interests.

If you open your big heart, a new teen in your home can be the one to give your home new energy and laughter. They can inspire your kids as they work hard to succeed in their exchange year! Or maybe as it is for us, this student will just be someone new to love.

For more information, visit sharesouthwest.org, call 505-977-5494 or email fezmomba@gmail.com. Facebook: SHARE Exchange Students New Mexico.

ERDT/SHARE!, a nonprofit educational foundation, has been successfully involved in providing positive cross-cultural experiences since 1974. All of us at ERDT/SHARE! strongly believe that cross-cultural exchange is fundamental to creating understanding and tolerance in a world that grows smaller every day. We truly believe the future of our children rests on developing friendships with people from other countries. Our programs are designed as cultural experiences that develop understanding and knowledge though positive personal experiences. Many of the senior staff in the ERDT/SHARE! has lived, worked, and/or studied overseas. Therefore, we bring firsthand cross-cultural experience to the organization.

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