Life is a series of twists and turns on a great adventure that we can plan for, but you know what they say about best laid plans…
In short, life is unpredictable. This trickles down to everything we do, and what you realize after a while is that planning is important, but it’s how you adapt when things go a bit off track that really makes all the difference. Participants in international exchange learn a lot about adaptability, through learning about new traditions, cultures and perspectives, and stepping outside of their comfort zones.
At AYA, we have the experience, expertise and institutional strength to help participants get the most out of their international exchange experience — and this is critical — both when things go perfectly according to plan and when the road gets a little bumpy. Let’s face it, life happens. People get sick; we have family emergencies; we make mistakes; we see the unforeseeable.
After 35 years as a leader in the field of international exchange and education, AYA has revealed a new logo and motto: The Gold Standard. We have reached this measure of our program by being available, accountable and dedicated to providing the best service and support to ensure our participants are safe and successful, and we continue this level of dedication for students, host families and communities across America to have a great experiences through international high school exchange.
A great example of adaptability and the AYA advantage is evident in the following story of a Local Coordinator in Connecticut helping exchange students succeed in the face of challenges, even as her own life has become complicated, albeit wonderfully so, anticipating the arrival of a new baby!
Marisa F. is a first year Local Coordinator in the state of Connecticut. Her very first placement was a welcome family who agreed to host a student named Chris. What was initially going to be a two-month stay wound up being shortened due to a family emergency in the host family. Marisa stayed on top of the situation, reaching out to folks at the local high school and in the surrounding neighborhood. Ultimately, Marisa coordinated a transition for Chris to find a permanent host family for the remainder of his stay in the U.S.
Without Marisa following program guidelines and smoothing the process, this placement and the changes over the last three weeks could have been a very uncomfortable situation. Instead, her professional and compassionate approach helped everyone reach a better place. She is now on bed rest and working with another Local Coordinator, Lindsay B., to provide transition and continuous program support as she looks forward to the arrival of her baby.
The hand off to Lindsay has been a smooth one, and I cannot express enough gratitude for the way she handled everything. Thank you very much, Marisa. You have excelled in this role. I’m looking forward to working with you again next year!
Thanks Tom, for sharing this story. It is a great demonstration of people staying focused and being flexible to adapt to changing circumstances. And thank you Marisa, for making sure Chris was supported by a community and his dreams of studying abroad in the U.S. remained alive and well. Kudos to all involved!
Learn more about opportunities for cultural exchange with Academic Year in America.