Foreign Exchange Friday: Your Support Network

John Longanecker talking on a phone after eati...

John Longanecker talking on a phone after eating at Denny’s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Students and families don’t have to navigate their exchange year alone.  EF Foundation for Foreign Study provides you with a local and remote support network to assist with any questions or issues that may arise.  We are here to help with anything – from questions about travel to issues of homesickness to conflicts between students and families.

Your first stop is your International Exchange Coordinator (IEC).  S/he is the support person in your local area.  S/he will call to check in with both families and students each month to make sure things are going smoothly and your IEC is available to you anytime for questions or to talk.  IECs are highly trained and certified by the Department of State and must go through a re-screening and training each year, so they are prepared to help you.  Make sure you have your IECs contact information, so you can reach out to them when you need them!

You can also reach out to your Regional Coordinator (RC).  The RC oversees the IECs in his/her region and is available to families and students as an additional layer of support locally.  Your RC may check in with you as well, conduct a secondary visit in your home or provide additional assistance with problem solving or counseling issues.  RCs and IECs also work together before students arrive to lock in school slots, screen host families for suitability according to State Department and EF Foundation guidelines and assist with matching students and families.

Your Program Support Manager is based in the Boston office and provides higher level assistance when needed.  S/he will also check in with students and families periodically to ensure they are feeling supported and comfortable.  Your PSM oversees the RCs and IECs and add yet another level of support for you.  PSMs are also in contact with our foreign offices in case natural parents need to be contacted and to keep them updated on how their students are faring.

Finally, you can reach out in an emergency 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by calling 1-800-447-4273.

You are provided with the contact information for all your support staff at your Welcome Orientation.  Please keep it where it is easily accessible.  If you use Facebook, you can usually find these folks there as an additional way to contact them.

Again, we are here to help!  Don’t hesitate to reach out!

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