Thousands of teenagers from other countries spend one or more years studying in the U.S. They come from countries all over the world, entering the U.S. through different educational programs and visas. In each case the students, parents back home, and host families are taking a big leap. Many of the teenagers have great experiences during their time in the U.S., improving critical language skills and forming life-long relationships. But many stumble along the way. Some change host families or schools while in the U.S.; some return home early. Many simply have a less rewarding time than could have been the case. Often it comes down to one problem – communicating. It’s hard enough for adults to communicate with teenagers who have grown up in their own homes and cultures; it’s much harder when the teens have only a limited sense of what they are getting themselves into. That’s part of the adventure, and it’s part of the problem.
Laura Kosloff and Mark Trexler have been the Exchange Mom and Exchange Dad since 2003, when they brought their first foreign exchange student into their home to join their two pre-teen boys. Since then, they have hosted over a dozen students from countries around the world in their own home, and have worked with many, many more in their role as local coordinators. They have dealt with behavioral issues, eating disorders, culture shock, language problems, sibling rivalries, alcohol and drug use, medical emergencies, and more.
Many of these situations could have been avoided with better problem-solving communications between student and host parents, student and parents back home, student and siblings in a host family, and even host parents and natural parents back home. There can never be too much communication when it comes to teenagers and adults, not to mention the added challenge of inter-cultural expectations and misunderstandings.
In this book you will learn about many of the most obvious opportunities for miscommunication in the context of students studying in the U.S., and how to solve problems when issues do arise. There is rarely a one-size-fits-all answer, but “communicate early and often” is pretty close. Host parents, parents back home, and students themselves are making a big investment when it comes to any high school study abroad option. Too often that investment doesn’t fully pay off, usually for predictable and avoidable reasons. This book can change that for you.