Tuesday, September 18, 2012

What I've Learned... from an exchange student

All of the anti-American sentiment in the news makes me think of the two exchange students we have hosted.  I wonder what they think of the news and what they say to others about Americans.  I know I enjoyed getting to know these young adults venturing into another land.  I learned so much from them and I hope they learned from us, too.

I compiled this list just after our first student left and I was feeling her absence so keenly.  I didn't want to forget what I had learned from her or noticed about her.  I gave her a copy of it then, and I hope she won't mind my sharing this now.

If you ever have a chance to host a student, please do!  I know several families who have, and continue to do so.   I think opening our homes and hearts to exchange students helps them see us as we are instead of as we seem on screen.  Honestly, I don't think we come across well in movies so full of violence, soap operas and reality shows so full of immorality, and Youtube videos that can be just plain stupid.  It makes me sad that the media can't see the harm that is done in the name of entertainment.

 At the airport picking up our first exchange student -  summer 2008.

What I've Learned...
from an exchange student 
by Janet Sobczyk, 2009ⓒ

  • To see things through a newcomer's eyes.
  • That we Americans need to take better care of ourselves. 
  • To eat fruit at the end of a meal instead of dessert. 
  • To eat healthier snacks and smaller portions. 
  • That one bite of chocolate can be enough for some people.
  • That we can be too focused on work.
  • That Americans over-decorate.
  • That our grocery stores are too big and the choices can be overwhelming.
  • That the American school system is unfair (because some other countries have free public education all the way through college.)
  • That teenagers from other countries are still teenagers, even if they seem more mature.
  • That scarves are a warm, pretty accessory which can be worn around the house.
  • That a six-month house guest can become so much like family.
  • That airports are not just exciting places to begin a trip; they can be sad places to say good-bye. 

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