October 10, 2013

Resources for Arranging International Student Exchanges

If I didn't scare you away with my last post, you might be wondering who you should contact if you want to host an exchange student. Here are some of the organizations I've worked with and/or been in contact with in the Portland (Oregon) area:

American Education Center (AEC). This is the organization we worked with for our summer 2011 exchange (when we hosted a college-aged young woman from Korea). It's my understanding that this organization focuses on exchange programs for students from different parts of Asia. Some of their programs are for high school aged students, but several of their programs are for college aged students and even for med students. For the program we hosted, the exchange student was in Portland for one month. The first week they were here they stayed in dorms on the campus of Portland Statue University. At the end of the first week, host families picked up their student(s) and brought them home. For the remaining three weeks, the exchange students went to school from approximately 8 AM to 5 PM every week day, and they were with their host families on evenings and weekends (although some weekends there were group activities/field trips that the students participated in). Our main job was to feed our student three meals a day (with lunch being a sack lunch), show her the walking route to our nearest Trimet bus stop, give her a place to sleep/shower, and involve her in family activities when she was with us on evenings and weekends. At the end of the program there was a banquet for exchange students and their host families.

Northwest International Student Exchange (NISE). This was the organization we worked with for our summer 2013 exchange (when we hosted a 14-year old boy from Spain). The particular exchange program we hosted was called a 30-day 24-7 exchange. What that means is that the exchange was for 30 days, and we would have the student with us 24-7 for all 30 days. In other programs (like the program mentioned above, and some other programs offered by NISE), the exchange student is involved in other activities (such as English classes and field trips) throughout the day (and on some evenings and weekends). We really enjoyed having our exchange student with us 24-7.

Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE). This organization has opportunities for hosting high school students, and has study abroad, teaching abroad and work/travel opportunities. I've not hosted one of their students (yet!), but I have interacted with some of their staff and was impressed with their program offerings. The programs I'm aware of that they offer are during the school year (and typically for a full school year). There are other programs that are shorter (or there are cases where you might "split" a student's visit with another host family, i.e. you host them for 1/2 of the school year and another family hosts them for the other half of the school year).

Rotary. This organization has a well-established record of supporting and encouraging study abroad programs. It's my understanding that when exchange students come to the US for a school year, they are typically "rotated" between three different host families during their stay. This means that no one family must host for a full school year and it means that the student gets to learn about our culture via their experiences in there different families. I've not worked with Rotary's exchange program before, but one of my colleagues has, and she can't say enough good things about it. Get in touch with your local Rotary Club if you want more information about their programs.

I would love to hear about other organizations you've worked with (either as a host family or as for a study/teach abroad experience).

Next week I'll bring this series of posts to a close with a discombobulated frenzy of wonderful snippets from our family's summer 2013 exchange experience.

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