Student Success & Memories that will last a Lifetime!

Submitted by Carol Duerksen

You know how it is when you contact a school for your check-in, and if you are lucky they send a short email back in a timely fashion?  We’ve all been there, done that. But on one of my contacts with Ken Parry, Principal at Peabody-Burns Middle School/High School in Peabody, Kansas, regarding the two Spanish boys at his school, I got an email back saying “Where have you been keeping these boys?” and then a few more words about how wonderful they are. I followed up with a few more questions, eager to hear the awesome details.    


Q: What activities are the boys in?

A. Wow…..both were in football, basketball, FFA, golf, helping Junior class with activities…concession stands, etc.


Q. Tell me about the successes they have experienced in their activities.

A.  Jorge was the kicker for the football team, Pablo was on the varsity squad for basketball.  Both have won medals in FFA events and Pablo was one of the top laborers in our annual FFA labor Auction…he was bought for $210.  Both boys went with FFA to the Denver Stock Show for a 3 day trip with FFA.  Pablo is so involved in activities, he asked the coach to remove him from the varsity squad for the last 2 games so he could help the junior class and FFA with concessions.      


I have personally hired them to help me with some items in the yard.  Both are hard workers. They are so polite, respectful, and fun to be with.


3.   Q. Tell me about their attitudes towards school.

A. They have a great attitude towards school. In fact, they made the comment how much different education is in America than in Spain.  It also confuses them how many of their fellow classmates do not get their work done so that they are not ineligible. Both are getting straight A’s.  I have NEVER heard anything negative about them. Teachers are impressed that they do not use any language barrier as an excuse for not doing their work.


4.   Q.  How do they relate socially to other students?

A. These two relate to other students very well.  They were never really loners and fit right in our school, both academically and socially. The kids love them here. Since Christmas, I have had many students come to me and tell me how much it is going to bother them when Jorge and Pablo leave and how the kids here will really miss them.


5.   Q. How are their English skills?    

A. Their English skills are good.  The only issue is with me being hard of hearing, sometimes their accent makes me ask them to repeat what they have said.



6.   Q.  Anything else?

A. I really do not know where you have been keeping these two.  I have two families that literally do not want to discuss their children leaving.  These two have made a great impact on our school and our community.  The memories that Pablo and Jorge have made in our school community will last a lifetime!


This is the dream response from a school, and when it happens, it gives me new energy to keep on placing students, knowing how truly life-changing this program is for so many people!  



Adorable Student Pets!

By Leslie Davidson, National Office

Happy National Pet Day – April 11th

Over the past few years, there has been some inter-national-office-SHARE!ing of the love of pets with “Adorable Student Pets” emails using student application photos and descriptions of their beloved animals. They were just too adorable not to, so we figured that it’s high time that we SHARE! them with you as well.

DID YOU KNOW that 65% of US households have pets? Yes, we love them—all 80 million of them, and many consider them family members. This is true for many other countries as well, which is captured below as proof-positive!

IT IS SCIENTIFICALLY PROVEN that people with pets live longer and have lower stress levels. Petting your dog, cat, bunny, gerbil, chicken, donkey, parrot or horse releases a relaxation hormone, lowers your blood pressure and cuts stress hormone levels. You must be feeling healthier already.

So, sit back with a smile, a sigh, and give your pet a pat while we SHARE! the love of animals with some Adorable Student Pets!

Exchange Students Making American Memories!

Our students in the Midwest have been making some great American memories this year! 

  • Carola from Sweden attends Dassel - Cokato High School and competed in Speech.  Her team took 3rd place in the state tournament out of 21 teams.  What an accomplishment when your nation language is Swedish and competing in English!!  
  • Honza from Czech Republic has had quite of an experience attending his local high school!  Playing hockey with the MOOSE and taking the team to state was an experience of a lifetime.  Playing hockey on the varsity level they took 2nd in state coming up short by 1 point in the double overtime!!!  Being a part of the high school spirt and the support of his community is something he will remember for the rest of his lifetime!!!  

Honza with his host family

  • Albin from Romania stated “Today is my 200th day in the USA.  I’m happy to be a part of this awesome adventure.  A little throwback when I was cheering for my favorite volleyball player.  “Live, travel, adventure, bless and don’t be sorry.”
  • Istvan from Romania has enjoyed wrestling all his life and continued in America!  He has earn an Outstanding Wrestler & was a National Runner up!
Istvan with his wrestling award!

Istvan with his wrestling award!

It's No Joke!  

By Laura Smrcka, Associate Director

As April Fools Day approaches, it has me thinking about the traditions surrounding the holiday in America. It's the one day a year where we are not only allowed, but encouraged to "fool" our loved ones. Ever wonder if it's celebrated around the world? Turns out, it is, in one way or another. 

In France, the holiday is known as Poisson d’Avril, which translates to April Fish. Apparently, school children will tape a picture of a fish on the back of an unsuspecting classmate and wait for it to be discovered. 

In Iran, the 13th day of the Persian New Year usually falls on April 1st or 2nd. Pranks have reportedly been played on this holiday since 536 BC, making it possibly the oldest known joke day. 

In Portugal, the Sunday and Monday prior to Lent is when they celebrate, and it's said that throwing flour on someone is a common prank. 

These are the types of traditions that our students learn about and share with their American host families every year. Want in on the fun? Click on the "Host an Exchange Student" tab for more information and consider hosting. 

Join the Campaign to Support Exchanges

Message from Executive Director of The Alliance for International Exchange

Join the Campaign to Support Exchanges

Dear Colleagues,

The Trump administration released its FY2018 budget, which calls for an unprecedented cut of 28 percent to the Department of State. While we don’t know by what amount, it is clear that the administration will soon propose steep cuts to the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA). If enacted into law, these cuts would greatly harm our nation’s public diplomacy efforts and, ultimately, our national security and economy.
We need to support our friend, Congressman Hank Johnson, who is leading a “Dear Colleague” letter to the House State, Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee in support of exchange programs. The letter calls for the highest possible funding level for State Department exchanges in FY2018.

The deadline for members of Congress to join the “Dear Colleague” letter is Wednesday, March 22

Please take action today in the following two ways:

1) Send a letter to your representative, asking him/her to sign the Johnson “Dear Colleague” letterThe letter is pre-written and it only takes a minute or two to send. If you would like, you can also personalize your letter for more impact. Click below to write your congressional representative today.

Write To Your Representative

2) Ask your host institutions, families, Board, and other stakeholders in the United States to send a letter as well. You can use this link to access a draft email message.

Write to Your Stakeholders

By working together, we can ensure that members of Congress appreciate the wide support exchange programs have throughout the United States.
Ilir Zherka
Executive Director, The Alliance of International Exchange