Real "Social Work"

By Lisa Laber, Regional Assistant

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I am new at ERDT. My back ground is in social work. So, as I stepped away from social work and started into the new world of student exchange, I wondered if I could find the satisfaction that I needed to stay engaged and interested in a whole new world of "dealing with people" and hopefully, helping people. Well, I must say, so far I am humbled and tickled to work with the caliber of people that I have dealt with during my short time at ERDT. From the Regional directors to the over seas partners to the EPC's. Issues regarding flights or allergies, or student diet. I must say, students, there is an army of folks who really care about you and are working to create the best possible experience for you.  Which leads me to host families, I can see that  they are the true foundation of this program. I cannot tell you how many host applications I have read that have brought tears to my eyes. The excitement and eagerness associated with hosting is so intoxicating, so full of love and belief in our future. These folks are willing and ready to take on a stranger and wrap them into their own family in a seamless way, WOW, true kindness and generosity. My new experience with ERDT-SHARE!, has me feeling excited and proud to be apart of this amazing team of good people coming together for the hope of the future, where we can maybe have a little more tolerance and acceptance for each other and our individual cultures and ways of being in this world. This is the stuff that makes this work resemble "real" Social Work. I appreciate being a part of this big, beautiful world of student exchange.

Mindful Goodbyes

By Lisa Laber, Regional Assistant

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Recently, after saying a last goodbye to a dying friend, I began to consider the importance of really being present while saying our goodbyes.

As this year comes to an end, it is time for students, host families, friends, teachers and coaches to say goodbye. I thought it might be helpful to consider a couple of ideas from the study of Mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being here now, and staying in the present moment as much as possible. "A mindful goodbye allows you to fully absorb your experience so that it can become part of your learning.โ€ โ€” Gretchen Schmelzer, a psychologist and the author of โ€œJourney Through Trauma.โ€

As the time comes to say your goodbyes, practice (they call it practice because it takes PRACTICE), first taking a deep breath, noticing your own feelings, looking into the person's eyes and listening deeply to what they are saying. Use the goodbye as a moment of gratitude and a moment of reflection. What are you grateful for from the interactions that you have had with this person? What are you taking with you because of this person? Take a breath or two to reflect on this gratitude.

Goodbyes also give us opportunities to consider the impermanence of our constantly changing lives. Saying everyday goodbyes to friends and family, helps us practice for when we have more substantial losses that come with being human.

So, enjoy the end of your time together, and practice with a mindful goodbye. Also, remember none of us is perfect at this... it takes practice.


Our students SHARE! the love they have for their host families!

There is so much joy and love to be experienced when you host a foreign exchange student.  Seeing your everyday life afresh through their eyes brings newness and appreciation to the average and mundane.  In this video, students share how much their relationships with their host families have meant to them and the impact you can have when you host an international student! 

I'm not crying i just have something in my eye...

by Emily Reppun, Work & Travel Program Director

Doing a little website work today, I pulled up our page on for the first time to download our "Top Rated Non-Profits 2018" badge to upload onto our website (yeah, we're proud of it!!).

WOW!  The reviews in there are amazing!  Check some of them out for yourself:

Have you submitted a review yet?

Thanks for taking a moment to SHARE! the love!