Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post for EF High School Exchange Year.
My parents hosted their first exchange student in 1999. Even though I was no longer living at home, I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know Max and learning about his hometown in Germany. At Christmas, Max’s parents sent our family a German Christmas Pyramid Carousel. It was a small gesture of gratitude from his parents, who had sent him halfway across the world to experience life in America and another learning opportunity for my brothers and I.
My parents went on to host a few more exchange students over the years, so when Leslie Considine, an International Exchange Coordinator (IEC) with Education First (EF) High School Exchange Year first reached out, I was interested in hearing what she had to say.
Leslie Considine was a joy to speak with and had so much to tell me about the program. In addition to being supermom to 6 of her own kids, she has hosted 8 exchange students over the years. She got involved with EF by chance, but she will be the first to tell you that although it wasn’t planned, it has blessed her life tremendously.
Leslie hosted her first student shortly after her oldest son left home to attend West Point.
The next year, EF asked her if she’d like to become an IEC, which means she would network to find host families in her community and support and supervise EF’s students throughout their time in the U.S. Having hosted herself and knowing there were many people in her community she could help to get involved with the program, she agreed.
If you like to work with teenagers and are interested in learning more about other countries and cultures, then being an IEC with EF is worth looking into. Leslie talked to me in detail about her position and explained that EF is always looking for more International Exchange Coordinators to help make their exchange students’ dreams come true. Her main job as an IEC is to find host families. Living in a small community in Oklahoma, she knows a lot of people and has been able to reach out to some of them personally. She also uses social media to get the word out. It only takes about a week to go through the interview and screening process for new host families, and many years she has repeat host families that want to do it again because they have had such incredible experiences.
As an IEC, she hosts two orientations each year; an orientation for the host families, and a welcome orientation for the students. She touches base with the families throughout the year and helps out if there are any issues or needs. She also meets with the students once a month and typically has them over for dinner.
Leslie explained to me that her role as an IEC has helped shape her community tremendously. For the families she works with, hosting has allowed them to see from a global perspective and discover life in other countries from the comforts of their own backyard. It has helped their children develop important life skills such as sharing, making sacrifices, learning responsibility, and becoming good citizens.
She also pointed out that host families really treat their exchange student as one of their own kids. They get them involved in daily chores and have them sit down for family meals. They truly become like one of their own children and remain for life – oftentimes coming back to visit and going to visit them in their home countries.
Being an IEC through EF is an amazing opportunity. For Leslie, it doesn’t feel like work, it’s a process that she looks forward to. If you are interested in making a difference in the lives of exchange students and host families, apply now to “Become a Coordinator“. If you are interested in hosting an exchange student, click here to visit EF’s website. Leslie has also graciously offered to make herself available to talk to anyone who’s interested in learning more. She can be reached by email at [email protected] or by phone (918) 864-3565.