How hosting opened up the world for a Pennsylvania family

By Brenda Hornberger - Regional Administrator

My husband and I just returned from our first vacation in over 20 years that had nothing to do with an exchange student – either visiting one in their home country or taking one someplace to explore this beautiful country we live in. I’m not complaining – it was just a realization that came to me on our trip. We were in the mountains of western South Carolina when the thought popped into my head. I looked at my husband and said “I really like what we have done with our lives.” He looked at me like “where did that come from”, but when I explained he agreed. We really like what we have done with our lives.

We are both from relatively rural Pennsylvania. Did you know that statistics show that “Once a Pennsylvanian, always a Pennsylvanian”? Yes, we are born here, we live here all our lives, we die here. And then you add into that equation that I am from Lancaster County – the home of the reclusive Amish – and he is from just across the border in Berks County and you have a recipe for never traveling further than the Jersey Shore for 1 week of summer vacation. And that is pretty much who we were. Other than 4 years of military service that took my husband to South Carolina, Sicily, and Crete, that’s who we were.

And then we discovered this magical thing called “hosting exchange students” and we never looked back!

Our first experience was with a summer program. We hosted a young man from France who made me realize how sheltered my life had been. We lived about a 2-1/2 hour drive from New York City and I had never been there! My husband had on a school trip, but not me. The exchange group was taking a trip to the Statue of Liberty and the student was asking me simple questions that I couldn’t answer! But that started to change the very next year when we hosted our first year-long student.

That first trip to New York, we were the typical frightened country-folk coming to the big city. There was no way you were getting us on a subway! We might get mugged! It was underground! And it was confusing! I was a white-knuckle passenger when we drove the beltway around Washington, DC. So we took bus trips and we walked the cities. We also didn’t fly. Not because of fear. Because that was something rich people did and we weren’t rich.

Now? I’m very proud to say that I’ve been to New York City more times than I can count. I know the subway lines. Maybe not like a native, but I can make my way around the city and beyond with very little trouble. And, I’m driving 15-passenger vans filled with kids around the Washington beltway! And, we are flying! All over the world! We have now explored 49 of our 50 states, I have been to 18 different countries (my husband is a few behind me in countries), and we don’t plan on stopping any time soon!

I’m not trying to brag or one-up anyone. I am sharing how taking that first step and opening your heart and home to a teenager (who is braver than I used to be!) can change your life forever! It did ours. Give SHARE! a call. We’ll be happy to help you change your lives forever too!

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Calling all Artists!!

By Kelli Jones, ERDT/SHARE! President

It shouldn’t be surprising to know that among our amazing exchange students, there are talented ARTISTS that come on the SHARE! program every year!!    Take a look at this collage of just a few of the many CSIET Cover Design winners over the years:


This year, again, CSIET is asking for SHARE! students to enter their Cover Design Contest, and the reward is $500!!   There's still time, a March 30 deadline!!   Let's Win It, SHARE! students!!!

EPCs: Please let all of your artistic exchange students about this great opportunity to SHINE!  You will earn 10 points if one of your students submits artwork to CSIET's 2018 contest (whether they win or not!) - all you have to do is notify us at

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Honorary Americans

By Tonya Duncan, Regional Administrator

The Olympic Games bring people from many different countries together.   People are proud to represent their country.  They are proud to be able to SHARE their country with the rest of the world, even if it is just for a moment.  It is so wonderful that so many people can be proud of who they are, and proud of the country they represent.  And that they can all come together with respect, understanding, and accepting of each others differences.  


SHARE High School Exchange Students come to the United States proud to represent their country, and proud to be able to SHARE that with us.

We interviewed some of our wonderful exchange students.

We asked, "What do you love about your country?":

Beam, from Thailand, said "I love being from Thailand, because I love how Thai people show respect to older people.  Thai people always smile to others even though you don't know that person.  I like the culture and tradition, I think it's so pretty, like Loy Katrong Day and Songkran Day.  And I love Thai food, I like how they use different seasoning to make a variety taste".  

"What I love about being Italian? That's pretty simple.  Being surrounded by great food and friendly people." -Claudia, from Italy.

"Brazil is a place full of diversity and good people.  Part of my personality is because of that...I just love all people!  I love my home country so much!" -Caroline, from Brazil.

And Ida, from Denmark, said  "I love that my country is so welcoming to everyone, and that we have a great government, that gives good educational opportunities, and good health care."

We also asked them, "Why are you proud to be from your country?":

"Because Brazil is a place where everyone is welcome.  It doesn't matter where you are from, what you believe...If you just want to have fun and enjoy life, Brazil is the place to be!"

"I'm proud to be Danish because Denmark is a country full of free thinkers, equality, and beautiful architecture." - Ida, Denmark.

Beam, from Thailand, said she is proud to be from Thailand because everywhere you go people greet you like friends.  

"I'm really proud to be Italian because I grew up in a place where sharing and helping others is extremely important.  Italians are friendly and always by your side.  And, we are very good cooks!" -Claudia, Italy.

Last, we asked them, "Why are you proud to be an honorary American, here as an exchange student?":

What Claudia loves about America is all the amazing friends she has made here.  She says, "They will be friends that stay with me forever."  And, she loves the amazing landscapes that this country offers.

"I am proud because I got an opportunity to learn an American culture, I get to know many things from America.  My home town and here have a lot of different things, but it teaches me how to adapt myself to live in a different environment.  People here are also friendly and kind." - Beam, Thailand.

"Since I got to America, people treated me so well!  I thought it was going to be the opposite, but their excitement was just incredible!  It's a great place to be!" - Caroline, Brazil.

"I'm proud to be an honorary American because it's a great title to have and I would love to inspire young people to do exchange in a foreign country, because it's such a great experience." -Ida, Denmark.

We have so many wonderful students from different countries like Germany, Japan, Norway, China, Poland, Spain, and so many more wonderful countries!!!  We are proud of these students, proud of how they represent their countries, and proud to call them "Honorary Americans".  

♥ SHARE! the love & memories ♥

Were you an exchange student or host family with SHARE! in the past?  We'd love to hear what you've been up to, and share your submission with the SHARE! student and host family network via our blog, website, our social media, and/or our e-newsletters. Thank you for SHARE!-ing the memories!

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