-By Tonya Duncan, Regional Director
Some people are drawn to the unknown, and have a yearning to experience something new. International Exchange Students are definitely those kind of people. These teens are looking to broaden their horizons by heading out on an adventure of a lifetime. But what makes it an adventure? Well, it is simpler than you might think.
As we go about our day to day, we all tend to get so familiar with our usual surroundings that sometimes we forget to stop and appreciate what's around us! Our host families have expressed that when they host an exchange student they are reminded about all the treasures in their own backyard. Often the things and places around us become just “normal”, but these tend to be the things the exchange students enjoy the most. And, most of the time they are the things you would never even imagine.
If you can believe it, some of our students sit in awe when they first step foot in a Costco warehouse. Yep, Costco! Most of them have never seen anything like that. Students have also been know to run outside to have a snowflake land on their face for the first time! They've been fascinated to sit down for a Thanksgiving feast with a family that has, an unheard of, 6 children. They've been amazed to walk into their High School to see lockers down the halls like in the movies, or to even take Photography or Dance as an actual class! Watching them experience what is our normal day to day life with a huge smile on their face, you can't help but enjoy the day to day along with them.
Every Exchange Student comes on this program to experience the American culture. But, each one of them has their own UNIQUE experience. Some might get to enjoy the beaches in San Diego, some might get to try the cheese steak in Philly, and some might get to saddle up for a horse ride in Montana.
In the Mountain States Region of the SHARE! program, a lot of students live with wonderful families in Utah. Just like every state, Utah offers it's own unique experiences. Our students have the opportunity to enjoy the mountains with skiing in the winter and hiking, fishing, camping, and more in the spring and fall. Utah also has the wonderful Great Salt Lake and 5 National Parks to see.
Our exchange students are able to have the adventure of a lifetime. And, it is thanks to our wonderful host families just living their day to day lives, and in turn giving our students a truly unique experience!