In the spirit of Valentine’s Day, we asked our Local Coordinators to share why they love being involved in an international exchange program like AYA! Check out these heartwarming reflections!
Hugh, AYA Local Coordinator in Pennsylvania:
I have been a Local Coordinator with AYA for a total of 26 years. This amazing organization provides the opportunity for me to meet new people and develop true friendships that last a lifetime. Being a Local Coordinator is very rewarding and brings so much joy. I love meeting the many host families and assisting them in selecting their new addition to the family. The students themselves provide another level of enjoyment. I enjoy meeting them and becoming an integral part of their experience. I assist them in achieving their personal goals and making their dreams come true. It is an amazing feeling witnessing the excitement, sense of accomplishment, and happiness with each student as they try new activities, make new friends, and take in every moment of their life in America.
My family and I have hosted 18 students over the years and each one of them brings a unique culture and personality…and on occasion some yummy chocolate and gummy bears!
The students have been instrumental in bringing our family together and doing our part to bring the world together. The students have various interest and give us the opportunity to experience new adventures along side of them and become a part of their development. I love seeing the students become involved in their high school activities as well as the community and seeing the impact that they make on others. Their independence grows as well as their confidence and I take pride in knowing I had a small part in that development, Last but not least, I love the opportunity to participate in our national meetings and meet so many people in the organization that share the same passion. As I get into my later years of life, being a Local Coordinator gives me a rewarding purpose. I am never bored being an LC. I love what I do and I am truly blessed!
Melissa, Local Coordinator in Wyoming:
I became a Local Coordinator because of the love I have for the kids. The best thing about my position is the bond I have with each student during the exchange year and after, [and] also the support of the AYA office. Together we give each student the love and support they need. We get to watch each other grow with communication, challenges and experiences. I get to give them a home and comfort in the US. They show me in small ways we are different, but yet no matter where we are from we all love the same. These students have shown me my passion to learn of different cultures.
Phil, Local Coordinator in Missouri:
I have been an AYA Local Coordinator in St. Louis, Mo., for more than 7 years. I love and enjoy meeting people from all walks of life and from around our world. I like to open the door to American homes to allow an international student in and to grow that relationship. I love to smile and witness AYA’s students as they perfect their English language skills, grow in mind and heart and blossom in a new environment.
As an AYA Local Coordinator, you get to establish long-term living family relationships throughout the world and the USA. It makes for great memories, reunions and great tour guides, if one travels.
Alyssa, Local Coordinator in Pennsylvania:
Being a Local Coordinator with AYA has been such a blessing! This [role] has allowed me to meet the most impressive, adventurous, mature, and courageous young guys and girls from all over the world. They are inspiring, and as a mother with young children, I can only hope that my own kids will grow up with that same tenacity for traveling and exploring other cultures. The host families are generous and kind, and I am so grateful to know them. The way they open up their homes and welcome these students in is so wonderful. As an LC, I can witness their love for each other first hand. Again, it’s a blessing. AYA is a program full of lovely people, with love for their families and for the world as a whole.
Anna, Local Coordinator in Louisiana:
I have discovered what I love most about being an LC is nurturing relationships and bringing people together. I just love seeing my students bond with their host families like they’ve been a part of the family all along. It’s also given my children an opportunity to meet new people and make new friends and discover there’s much more to the world than just Louisiana. We all have so much we can learn from each other!