Are you fascinated by international cultures? As an AYA Local Coordinator, you can share America with the world by helping international exchange students come to the United States to live with American families and attend American high schools.
In our “Meet an AYA Local Coordinator” series, we look at the people behind the success of our exchange students. Today we hear from AYA Local Coordinator Terri, who runs a cluster in Western New York and parts of Eastern Pennsylvania, about her experience working with exchange students and host families.
Meet Terri, AYA Local Coordinator for New York:
What does it mean to host an international exchange student?
Terri: One of the greatest things is that it brings a different culture into your home. It opens your eyes to new things, so even though I’ve been doing this year after year, I still feel like every year is something new and something refreshing. They also bring a certain perspective, so seeing the world through their eyes is such a gift.
How has hosting an international exchange student benefited you?
Terri: I cannot even begin describing unless I’d say how it has also benefited my family. I have five children, and because we have hosted, four of my five children have actually studied or lived abroad. The exposure to having an exchange student in your home gives them the gift of lifting their eyes that there is so much more out in the world. In fact, even my daughter and I just had the conversation; she’s 31, and we sat down together the other day, and she said, “What would our life be if we had never hosted? Who would we be?” Because the 22 students that we’ve had in our homes have changed us all so much for the better.
Anything you would like to say to future host families?
Terri: If you want to grow, host. I have learned so much, even about myself. I have learned about my relationships with my children. I have learned about my relationships with other people just by seeing it through a new set of eyes. I would just say that if you want to enjoy the adventure because it truly is an adventure, then you should host.
Note: Some responses have been edited for length and/or clarity.
Interested in becoming an AYA Local Coordinator?
AYA is looking for passionate individuals like Terri across the United States. Becoming a Local Coordinator is a rewarding opportunity to build your personal and professional network by providing support to international students, host families and your own community.