A Fair Exchange?
January 24, 2017
Filed under News
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Ever heard the term “America is a melting pot”? Since its creation, America has been a home for immigrants, and its code spelled out clearly on the Statue of Liberty states “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breath free…”. In the present age, foreign exchange programs such as the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program, the Future Leaders Exchange Program, Education First, and many more keep the American spirit alive by promoting high school students to come and study in America, learning the culture while studying. Students from several countries come to America and are assigned a host family, while Americans get hosted by foreign families as well.
Moving away from your family, living with a new assigned family, and changing cultures overnight while trying to focus on maintaining good grades can be an incredible feat for a young adult to make. Nora Bentson, a junior at Paradise Valley from Norway gives her program, Education First, high praise stating “More people should take the opportunity to do it… you learn a lot”. The experience of being in a new country with a new family can bring feelings of fear and doubt as well. In response to those feelings Nora states, “Just go for it even though you’re scared… I was terrified at first… [but] I haven’t heard of one student that regretted it… you regret it if you don’t.”
However while there are good stories, there are also bad ones. Some students suffer from incompatible host families, where the students and the and parents don’t see eye to eye. When asked about the relationship between her and her host family, Nadia Hofer, a Junior from Switzerland respond “Now it’s going well, but I had a lot of troubles…”. In the beginning, Nadia had troubles with her host family picking her up from school activities, and was stuck finding her way home by herself. Similar stories have been told about host families not paying for their food or clothes, leaving them to support themselves, by themselves. According to Nadia, “My brother had a bad host family… and had to switch coordinators just to get a new host family because his coordination was good friends with the host family”. In many cases the coordinator, the person who handles the students foreign exchange, and the host family can be close friends. This leads to bias when host family issues come up, and with mountains of paperwork, not much gets done fast.
Overall, the foreign exchange program has positive reviews with good experiences. Andrine Meyer states “I think it’s amazing how people can take someone into their house, care for them and let them be apart of your family”. There are many programs to choose from with many countries and cultures to explore. It’s keeping the American spirit alive, and the creed on the Statue of Liberty true.