One Student’s Experience: From making the decision to exchange, to getting ready to go home

Our student, Ana, shared her final school project with us as she reflected on her year. 

We are inspired by her open mentality to say "yes" to as many things as possible in her life, including the exchange program!

She said yes to many first experiences during her exchange; first Thanksgiving, first Halloween, first American Christmas, Christmas concerts, bonfires, football games, and many many first times trying new food!

We wish Ana the best as she keeps embracing new opportunities and saying yes to new adventures!

ERDT Staff Promote our Programs in Beijing

On May 26, 2017, Roger Riske, ERDT President Emeritus; Colin Churchill, ERDT Executive Director; Tracy Gautier, Director, ERDT enVision; & Nicole Winn, Associate Director, ERDT enVision, participated in an all-day conference held in Beijing, China. The conference was organized by ERDT’s Chinese partner, China Service Center for Educational Exchanges (CSCEE) & the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC).


ERDT enVision cooperates with our Chinese partner CSCEE on two programs: the Sociological Research in America (SRA) program & the Volunteering Homestay in America (VHA) program (more information on these programs below).


The Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries (CPAFFC) is one of three major foreign affairs organizations in China charged with the promotion friendship & mutual understanding with foreign countries. The current leader of the CPAFFC is Li Xiaolin, who is the daughter of a former President of China, Li Xiannian (1983-88). That’s a fairly big deal.


Our partner in China, CSCEE, receives recognition & approval from CPAFFC to run programs overseas.  It’s not an exact analogy, but CSCEE’s relationship with CPAFFC is something like ERDT’s relationship with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational Affairs in running our High School & Summer Work & Travel J-1 programs.


Here’s a screen shot from the CPAFFC website, showing the CPAFFC President meeting in Beijing with Jerry Brown, Governor of California.





The conference celebrated the 10-year anniversary of CSCEE’s relationship with CPAFFC, & the 10-year CSCEE anniversary of implementing intercultural programs with overseas organizations. The attendees were some 200 officials from Chinese universities that cooperate with CSCEE in recruiting students for CSCEE overseas programs.


The conference was held in the stately CPAFFC building that, at one time in a different Chinese past, was the home of the Italian Embassy. Note the ornate ballroom in which we all gathered for the conference:





Group photo of all participants in front of main building:









Roger, Tracy, & Colin gave presentations during the conference.  Although ERDT does not cooperate with CSCEE on the Summer Work & Travel program (ERDT does run the J-1 Summer Work & Travel with other overseas partners), Roger was asked to give conference attendees an overview of the Summer Work & Travel. The J-1 SWT program allows foreign university students to come to the U.S. for a period of up to three months for work legally and then to travel the U.S for one month.





Tracy Gautier, Director of ERDT enVision, presented on a relatively new CSCEE – ERDT program, Volunteering Homestay in America (VHA). This is a program for individual Chinese university students who are placed with local community non-profit organizations to assist in their work & to gain an understanding of the role of NPOs play in addressing social issues in the U.S. Students on this program also have a one-month home stay with a local host family.



Yami Gong, CSCEE’s Program Director, acted as interpreter for our presentations:


Colin Churchill, ERDT Executive Director, presented on the CSCEE – enVision program Sociological Research in America (SRA). The SRA program is a 21-day program for Chinese university students who make a comparative analysis of education, healthcare, public safety, public service and volunteerism, and family life in the U.S. and China through on-site visits, content workshops, and a home stay with an American host family. ERDT & CSCEE have been cooperating on this program since 2010. Nearly 4,000 Chinese university students have participated in this program since its inception.

Roger, Tracy, & Colin received sterling support from Nicole Winn, Associate Director of enVision, pictured here with Tracy & Yami Gong:




Conference attendees also heard presentations from Jerry Wang, President of CSCEE (pictured below); Chinese university teachers who participated in programs as group leaders; and most importantly from Chinese students themselves who have participated in SRA, SWT, & VHA programs in the U.S.


ERDT’s participation in this conference is a further indication of the deep and productive relationship we have with our partner in China, CSCEE.  We look forward to many more years of work together, and, furthermore, an expansion of programs under the auspices of ERDT enVision here in the U.S. involving Chinese students of all educational levels.


Roger & Tracy sum it up:













SHAREing the VOLUNTEER Spirit!

Emily from Germany went to participate in a Days for Girls Workshop.  They made washable kits for girls in third world countries.  She cut out the material for pads and the host mother did the sewing. 

Emily from Germany went to participate in a Days for Girls Workshop.  They made washable kits for girls in third world countries.  She cut out the material for pads and the host mother did the sewing. 

Volunteering is rewarding, life changing, and eye opening!

While here, some of the SHARE High School Exchange Students spend some of their time volunteering.  They are involved in helping the local communities, schools, and churches.  Whether it is helping the elderly, making quilts for other countries, or doing service projects with the church groups; so many of our students are giving back to a community that is only theirs for a short time.  These international kids adopt their local community as their own; it is their HOME for 5-10 months.  Even though they are here for a limited time, some of them have given so much to pay it forward. With great attitudes and caring hearts, these kids brighten the lives of many people they meet. Here are some of their stories:

  • One of our students joined the Help-the-Homeless-Club.  He helped by planting a garden with potatoes, tomatoes, carrots, and onions to give to the shelter to feed the hungry. 
  • One of our sweet girls participated in a “Smile Campaign.”  She went to local stores and handed out compliment cards, just to make people smile. 
  • Another one of our girls spent a lot of her time teaching the kids in her neighborhood how to draw. 
  • Laura, from Spain, spent a day at the Developmental Center to participate in a “Wheelchair Dance,” dancing with people with special needs who use wheelchairs. 
  • Some of our students spent time helping others learn about their language and culture, including becoming a teacher's aide for the language teacher that teaches their native language, and volunteering as a Peer Tutor.
Nerea from Spain volunteered to help the Girl Scouts collect donations.  She sold cookies and collected donations for extra boxes to donate to the Ronald McDonald House Charities.  They delivered 12 cases of cookies for the families staying there.

Nerea from Spain volunteered to help the Girl Scouts collect donations.  She sold cookies and collected donations for extra boxes to donate to the Ronald McDonald House Charities.  They delivered 12 cases of cookies for the families staying there.

“My host mom is an elementary-school-teacher, throughout the year, I've helped her out at her school and worked with the kids in her class. I even created a Powerpoint to present and show Germany and presented it in front of all the 3rd Graders.”  - Haokun from Germany

Around the holidays a lot of the kids participated in some sort of “Sub for Santa,” delivering gifts to families in need, and buying, decorating, and delivering Christmas trees to families that did not have one. 

“During Christmas I participated in "Vikings Gift."  We collected money for 5 nights and with that money we bought presents for kids where their parents couldn't afford presents. Every kid made a list with what they wanted and every volunteer had one or two kids where they had to buy present for. The Friday before Christmas break we went to their school and brought the presents! It was amazing to see how they reacted!”  - Frederique from the Netherlands

Volunteering is a vital part of the SHARE! Program.  Even our host families are volunteers.  And, it is because of these volunteers that these exchange students get to participate in these wonderful experiences. 

THANK YOU to all the students and host families that have volunteered!!! 

Goodbye, and Hello

This time of year is such a mix of emotion for our host families and students. Time to say goodbye. Time to adjust to less footsteps in the home. Time to reflect on the experiences from this last year and plan for the next. Time to squeeze every last favorite person, place, food, laugh, cry, and experience into an already packed schedule.  

All of this is happening while a group of students arriving in the Fall are getting to know their new host families, and trying to imagine everything that's in store for them this coming year.  About to embark on the trip of a lifetime and planning their first HELLO in person, they really have no idea what love and sadness and adventures await.

As Jimi Hendrix said "The story of life is quicker than the wind of an eye, the story of love is hello and goodbye...until we meet again"