Message from our Executive Director
Welcome to NWSE's 2017-18 program, marking our 30th anniversary year!
It takes dedicated and mature students as well as caring and attentive host families to ensure successful and enjoyable exchanges - and, if you are reading this newsletter as an NWSE participant, I believe those adjectives describe you!
Here are some questions you might consider as you start your adventure: What do you hope to gain from this experience? How do you want to grow as a person? Are you letting yourself be open to seeing things in a new way? Are your expectations realistic and reasonable? In what ways can you contribute to your American and home communities? And what can (and will) you do to accomplish these goals?
I suggest asking (and answering) these questions at least once per quarter during your exchange, write them down in a journal, and see how your answers may change over time - and see how you change and grow during this program.
Another important question I would like participants to ask themselves is whether they are being fully present and open to their intercultural experiences in the U.S., or whether they are isolating themselves (students in particular) by communicating too often with family and friends back home or spending too much time on the phone, in social media drama, or on the Internet instead of connecting with real people in real time in person.
If students are feeling homesick, or host families, host schools or host communities experience problems, remember to do the following:
- Communicate often and openly with your host family about everything - directly and not via electronic means!
- Communicate openly and often with your NWSE Area Coordinator
- Make your relationship with your host family your first priority
- Sign up for activities and hobbies in your host community and school
- Limit/eliminate the time spent communicating with family and friends back home
- Put your phone away and talk to the people around you face-to-face!
We assume that you, as exchange students, are aware of the many different perceptions that people may make of you. As you develop new relationships with people in the U.S., remember that how you choose to communicate with the people around you is the most important thing that will affect the success of your exchange. Be present, be communicative, be considerate, be respectful, be open-minded, be flexible - and, above all, be ready to have a great exchange!
Executive Director, NorthWest Student Exchange