High school international exchange programs are key in our interconnected world.
It’s no secret that technological advancements have increased our knowledge of the world significantly. In this digital age, breaking news from Asia hits U.S. networks within seconds and platforms like Facebook rapidly share stories across time zones. But understanding a different culture doesn’t necessarily stem from the stories we read. Cultural understanding is only truly possible when we experience a culture firsthand; and high school international exchange programs help.
That makes cultural exchange programs like Academic Year in America (AYA) so important in the United States today. Here are 8 reasons why:
1. High school international exchange programs help families grow across the globe.
By hosting an international exchange student, your family will grow internationally. Exchange students gain an international mother or father, while American host siblings gain an international sister or brother! After the exchange year ends, some exchange students return for a visit with their former host family, and host parents often take trips abroad to visit their international son or daughter. Whatever the case, the relationships are long-lasting.
2. They boost cultural awareness.
AYA exchange students are some of the best and brightest representatives of their countries. Often, they’re just as excited to teach others about their culture as they are to learn about American traditions! By doing so, they boost cultural awareness and prepare American high schoolers for diverse thoughts, traditions, and environments that they’ll encounter in the future.
3. They positively impact local communities.
In addition to creating lasting bonds with their host family, exchange students also create lifelong friendships with classmates, teammates, fellow club members, teachers, neighbors… the list goes on. In this way, high school international exchange programs can positively change entire communities.
4. They open participants’ eyes to how wonderful the world is.
American host families get to travel the world… without leaving the U.S.! On a daily basis, interactions between exchange students and host families open both parties’ eyes to the wonderful, exciting elements of the other’s culture. Similarly, hosting helps you rediscover the best parts of your own culture and community too! The entire experience will likely make you fall in love with the world like never before.
5. They help shatter stereotypes.
Just as news stories spread so quickly, false statements and stereotypes can also spread rapidly. High school international exchange programs help shatter those stereotypes. You’ll come to realize that other countries or cultures aren’t as different from yours as you thought. In fact, you’ll probably find more similarities than differences with your exchange student.
6. They teach life-changing lessons.
The lessons learned during an exchange program are invaluable. Whether it’s learning a new language, developing skillsets, or exploring different customs, there are many life-changing lessons that participants learn throughout the program. Plus, host families and exchange students often share these lessons with friends and family – sparking a chain reaction of intercultural understanding.
7. They encourage global curiosity.
By taking participants out of their local bubble, high school international exchange programs inspire global curiosity. They shine a light on how much there is to discover about our world. As global curiosity develops over the course of the exchange year, you’ll become more understanding of other cultures – and more appreciative of different parts of the world.
8. They make our world a more peaceful and loving place.
Most importantly, high school international exchange programs lay the groundwork for a more peaceful future. By hosting an exchange student, you help change the future. American host families make their community, country, and our world as a whole a more loving, accepting, and understanding place.
Help us build a more understanding and accepting world: