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New and traditional ways of exploring the globe, and your own backyard.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Want to Host an International Student?

I love foreign exchange programs.

That's probably because I participated in one when I was a freshman in high school and I still talk to some of the people I met to this day. They are a great way to learn about another culture and for someone from another country to learn a bit about life in the U.S. while forging good relations - even on a hyper local scale.

As luck has it, the International Center is seeking local host families for high school foreign exchange students from Eurasia for the 2013-14 academic year. Host families can include single parents, retirees, empty nesters, individuals, domestic partners, couples with no children, or parents with young or teenage children. Hosts need only to provide a bed, a quiet place to study, meals, and transportation to/from school activities.

And the rewards last decades: I still remember the first time I flew across the Atlantic to do a foreign exchange in Geislingen, Germany. I remember seeing all the little red roofs of the houses below. I remember sleeping in a small bed in my exchange partner's room - some nights we'd talk mainly in English but others I'd want to challenge myself and talk in Deutsch. We stayed in Germany for four weeks and it was only $1,000. That, my friends, is a priceless investment and one that I (should) still thank my parents for today.

That was my first taste of international travel - going to Berlin, to Neuschwanstein, to Munich. Learning tongue twisters in another langue. And making memories with teenagers across the ocean that have truly lasted (and I usually have a horrible memory).

The next year, the students came to stay with us and the cycle continued. My sister eventually went over too.

I stayed with those friends on a trip to Germany a few years back, and my host partner stayed with me here in Troy for about three months in 2009, as she traveled around and experienced Capital District life.

Just last week, I emailed that host partner  and I've been Facebooking one of the other students I met from the program.

So, in case I haven't made my point clear: You want to host these students. You really want to. They're awesome and it's an awesome experience.

For information on this U.S. Department of State sponsored opportunity, call the International Center of the Capital Region at 518-588-8947 or email


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