Foreign Exchange Students

Sophia Dewael, Staff Writer

Mt. Vernon High School gives students from other countries the opportunity to become exchange students at our school. It gives these students the chance to explore and learn about the schools and culture of the United States while also improving their English. There are also different clubs and sports that they can participate in that they may not be able to do in their home countries.

It is a great experience for the learning aspect, but it is also a wonderful way to make new relationships with their host family and new friends. Also, it lets them make international connections for both the exchange student and the people that they befriend.

To give someone this opportunity is to also open them to more experiences too. Being a host family requires no previous knowledge as there are people who are dedicated to guiding the people involved in the program. They make themselves easily accessible with the intent that they will answer any question that a host family or exchange student may have.

Mrs. Roland who is the program director and local coordinator for the Mt. Vernon Foreign Links Around the Globe (FLAG) program. She is in charge of finding people to become host families and then helping them and the exchange student get through the whole process, offering help whenever needed. 

A major concern that Mrs. Roland receives from people who are thinking of becoming a host family is that Indiana is boring, so the exchange students won’t want to come here. On the contrary, though, Mrs. Roland explains that, “what our families don’t understand until they experience it, however, is that our community has so much to offer. Most of our students have never been to an apple orchard, or a fall bonfire, or been to a school that has school spirit.”

The simple routine things that the host family thinks of as normal could actually be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for the exchange student. So even if a life seems boring, it could actually be quite exciting from another perspective. People who are thinking about being a host family should consider this.

All that a host family has to do is fulfill the basic needs of their exchange student with food and a bed. Sometimes it requires patience because their English is not perfect, but over the time they are here, their English will improve. The family doesn’t even need to try and do more than they usually do to seem more exciting, because this is the experience that the students signed up for.

My personal experience with being part of a host family is that it was hard at first because any change is an adjustment, but once a routine was set, it became fun. We go on family outings and cheer each other on at sporting events. It really is like having another sibling. I recommend it to other people because it has been an eye-opening experience to other cultures and experiences. 

If interested in becoming a host family for next year or just curious, be sure to contact Jennifer Roland or Haley Frischkorn. They can be contacted at their emails: [email protected] and [email protected]