Update: I so appreciate the comment I received. I would really appreciate it if more in the Kos community would read this as I feel it is really great information to get out there! So please help get this out. Thank you
During his presidential campaign and also after his Presidential win, Obama asked all of us to pitch in and help our country in some way. We don’t have to wait for him to be sitting in the Oval office before we do something. If you’ll give me a few minutes of your time by reading this diary, I will lay out an important way that you can start doing something for America and our Global community. When times are tough it becomes even more important for us to engage in service work. I need to be asking myself "How can I be my sister and brother’s keeper? "What can I do to serve?"
Follow me beneath the fold and I’ll tell you one way that you can help right now.
Right at this moment all over our nation and the world, armies of student exchange representatives are volunteering to help students ages 15 – 18 find host families and high schools so that those young people can experience the challenge and growth that comes with immersing themselves in a totally different culture. These young people are the future leaders of our nations. They will be the leaders who will be involved in the decisions that can impact world peace, global health, global poverty, environmental health, technology and economic policy. They are bright, talented, enthusiastic, and open to the promise of a brave new, more peaceful world. We can make a difference by either volunteering or participating as host families. The sad thing is that so many families and schools in American know very little about these programs and the benefits they entail for students both here at home, and abroad. Note: All student exchange programs should adhere to all U. S. Department of State regulations and approved for listing by the U.S. Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET)
Because I am involved, with one of the non profit organizations working to place exchange students, I will outline some of those benefits. First of all, for American high school students there are the outbound programs. They have the opportunity to live abroad for a year, three months, or for a summer. During this adventure they become part of a new family, experiencing their culture, customs and language. This will help them and the community they are in to build bridges of understanding, tolerance, respect and even love. They contribute, one child at a time, to broader international understanding. They are our ambassadors and when they return home they bring with them a greater understanding and global perspective.
There are financial scholarships available for those who may need some financial assistance. Students who apply for the outbound programs must meet certain academic and character standards. Area representatives help them to navigate the paperwork, follow foreign travel requirements and provide support. Another wonderful program for American students is the premier exchange program, the German, Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange, sponsored by the US Congress and the German Bundestag through the U.S. Department of State. The CBYX, has numerous scholarships available and the student and their family incur very little cost in exchange for experiencing up close, German life. They receive intensive language and cultural training upon arrival. Some other opportunities for outbound are, a summer in Australia, a 28 day language adventure exchange and international teen twin program (where two students switch homes)
Then there are the wonderful inbound programs where kids from every continent on the planet dream of coming to America for a year, semester or summer. They undergo a rigorous application process and must meet high personal and academic standards. By coming to America and immersing themselves in our culture they too offer an opportunity for global understanding and unity. They will take home a slice of America helping us to build our friendship base around the world. American high schools are required to open their doors to a certain number of exchange students and the schools receive money from our government to cover the cost of doing so.
There are also two other little known programs for exchange students; the FLEX and YES programs:
FLEX (Future Leaders Exchange Program), a U.S. government sponsored program which brings hundreds of students to the U.S from the Independent Republics of the former Soviet Union. YES (Youth Exchange and Study Program), which was created by the U.S. Department of State as a response to the tragic events of September 11, 2001.
Our government pays for these kids to come over so that they experience life in a democratic society. One of the goals of these programs is to promote peace through understanding and education.
Ok, by now I hope you’re thinking, "All right already what can I do to help?" You can become a volunteer area representative (includes stipends to defray costs), just keep in mind it will be a labor of the heart. You can be a host family and welcome a foreign exchange student in your home. You can talk to your friends, co workers and families encouraging them to participate. You can share out bound programs with teens in your families.Talk to your clubs, teams, churches and communities.
And please, please, please encourage your local high schools to be active participants in student exchange programs. Schools receive so much literature that sometimes exchange program information (not intentionally) gets lost. So talk to your schools and your teachers, without schools signing an agreement letter to hold spots for exchange students, they will not be able to leave their home country. So please call your schools and find out how they are involved in these programs.
Please play a part in helping to promote global unity and peace by supporting American and Global exchange students. And please help to rec this diary and email to those you think might be interested.
For more information I’ve included some student exchange program links and numbers.
ASSE – 1-800-333-3802, www.asse.com
AFS – 1-800-AFS-INFO, www.afsusa.org
AYUSA – www.ayusa.org
CIEE – www.ciee.org
YFU – www.yfu-usa.org