Foreign Exchange Friday: Get Involved!

A Highschool American Football game

A Highschool American Football game (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now that school is started, it’s time to start settling into a routine.  Most schools have a wide variety of activities to join – sports, drama, music…all great ways to meet new friends who have similar interests.

Families – talk to your student about what kinds of things they are interested in and help them explore their options.  Have them speak with teachers, counselors or classmates to find out what they can join and when.  Are there tryouts?  Did the season already begin?  Do they allow late joiners?

Even if a student has quite found something that attracts them yet, encourage them to attend social activities such as football games.  Most students have probably never attended an American football game or are even familiar with it, so it’s a great way to experience the culture of the country and the school itself.  Check the school sports schedule and offer to drop off and pick up your student – or atten with them!

Another place students can get involved are with community groups, such as churches or other places of worship or volunteer groups.  If your student wishes to practice their religion, families should help them find somewhere to do so or ask the local IEC for help.  There, they can also meet people or join a youth group.  If your student enjoyed volunteering back home, see if that is a possibility in your area.  Food banks, schools or hospitals may allow them to volunteer a few hours.

Students are here to experience American school and family life, but they should also explore things they like and are interested in.  Encourage them in finding their place and their year will be better!  I know my best memories of both high school and college were of the “fun” things – sporting events, band – and some of my own best friends were made there.  This could be a great way for your student to bridge the cultural gaps and see that teenagers are all pretty much the same.

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