AYA is proud to have Local Coordinators who have stayed with our program for more than a decade! Are you curious to learn why our LCs stayed with AYA for so long?
Meet LC Dina from South Carolina who gave AYA an insider’s look intp what it means to be an AYA Local Coordinator. Dina has been with AYA since 2007 as Local Coordinator and host family since 2004 and are looking forward to working together again this year!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Dina, and I live in Effingham, South Carolina, on a horse farm outside of Florence. I began hosting with AYA in September of 2004 and became a Local Coordinator in spring of 2007.
How many students have you hosted with AYA?
This year we are hosting our 12th student! Many have stayed with us and many have become like a son or daughter to us.
What countries have you hosted students from?
We have hosted students from all over the world and 9 different countries including: Indonesia, Philippines China, Egypt, Malaysia, Ukraine, Morocco, Turkey, and Kuwait!
What does it mean to you to be an AYA Local Coordinator?
To me, an AYA LC is dedicated, to their students, their families, and the AYA program. You have to believe in the program’s mission and vision and enjoy doing community activities to be a good at what you do and a successful LC. It is a big job, but I have found that the more time spent with the students and families, the stronger the relationship grows and the more positive outcomes are achieved together.
What qualities do you believe an AYA LC should have?
Just to name a few…
- Student Mentor
- Cultural Interpreter
- Family Counselor
- Event Organizer
- Community Liaison
- Community Service Leader
- Vacation Planner/Tour Guide
And of course a mom and a friend!
What are things Local Coordinators can do to keep their families and students engaged?
Keep everyone involved in everything is a key factor for me!
Teamwork – I keep my families involved by giving them leadership opportunities and get different families to participate in a variety of student activities. I also ask them to share their ideas and collaborate with me.
Participation – Everyone likes getting together with the other AYA host families and strong friendships are often born. These friendships between families keep everyone engaged and wanting to participate.
What events do your AYA Grant students volunteer at?
I place and supervise AYA Grant students, who are sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs through the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program and Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) Program. Through these programs the students are required to volunteer during the academic year in America.
I always enjoy working with Grant students and giving them the opportunity to get involved at the local level! Some of our favorite events to volunteer at include many local festivals in fall and spring, Operation Christmas Child, participating in the local Christmas Parades, Francis Marion University’s Art’s International Festival, and volunteering at some local haunted houses in October!
Why did you choose to volunteer with AYA?
The biggest reasons that I’ve stayed on as a volunteer with AYA are the students and the host families. I love the students! Even though at times it can be challenging, I’m always up for it and I enjoy teaching them about America, our culture, and watching them grow in just 10 short months!
And the host families are amazing and so excited to be a part of such a global experience! They love their students and love learning about all of the countries they represent. The families are all very active in everything that AYA does and that keeps the students active and excited as well!
The students and families all keep me going!
Thank you Dina for sharing an insider’s look at what it means to be a volunteer with AYA. We are happy to have you as a member of the AYA team for 11 years! Are you interested in learning more about becoming a Local Coordinator with AYA? Learn more on our website, here. Do you have a question for our LC Dina from SC? Send your questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org.