EF High School Exchange Year—a division of EF Education First, the World Leader in International Education—has welcomed over 200 high school exchange students into the U.S. for the spring semester.
The program would like to hear from Valley Center families interested in hosting an exchange student.
Though their experience may look different than a traditional year, these students, host families and schools are making the very best of an atypical situation. Mathilde, an Italian 16-year-old studying at Casa Grande High School in Petaluma, California recently described her experience so far. “My host family is perfect. It already feels like home. And I never thought that it would feel so quick like home. I love it here. But the time goes so fast. I feel like I arrived yesterday. But I am here for 2 months now.”
This past year of social distancing, closed borders, and increased isolation for so many of us, yet it’s these stories that show the difference our families, communities and schools continue to make. EF High School Exchange Year says it is optimistic for its future and looking forward to welcoming a much larger group of students into the U.S. this Fall.
“Hosting an international student is a truly life-changing experience, and we’re excited to continue finding wonderful new host families in communities all across the country,” said Bob Fredette, president of EF High School Exchange Year. “The exchange experience is as rewarding for the host family as it is for the student. You bring a new culture into your family and community, you fulfill an international teenager’s lifelong dream of living in America, and you form a lasting relationship that spans the globe.”
All EF exchange students are between 15 and 18 years old, coming from 13 different countries around the world. Students live in the U.S. for one or two semesters and attend the local high school. Our students are expected to follow state, local and school guidelines, and they are required to participate in EF-sponsored online orientations, which have been updated to include new expectations around their participation in virtual and in-person class settings during COVID-19.
Sandra Frederico, an International Exchange Coordinator and host parent in San Diego County, says, “When we started this amazing adventure, we knew we would be adding a new daughter to our family. While we were gathered at the airport waiting for our newest family member to arrive, I remember everyone being nervous and hopeful, yet so excited. From that day forward, we all learned so much from each other. It was the little everyday things that had the most impact: school, friends, family dinners, game night, making s’mores, school football games and dances, hiking at the lake, celebrating holidays with family, and daddy/daughter days. She taught us about Norwegian culture, customs and holidays and even tried to teach us a little Norwegian language. We were empty nesters and weren’t sure how this experience was going to go, but we had the best and most memorable times while she was here. It was like seeing everything we take for granted each day through someone else’s eyes and seeing it again for the first time. We made so many memories that will last a lifetime, and the best part is that she will always be a part of our family and our heart.”
EF High School Exchange Year is a non-profit corporation designated by the U.S. Department of State to operate a J-1 student exchange program. EF brings more students to the U.S. each year than any other high school exchange program, and since 1979 the organization has connected more than 100,000 international students with caring host families like the Fredericos across the United States.
Families in Escondido and Valley Center that are interested in learning more about hosting an exchange student through EF can contact IEC Sandra Frederico directly at 619-851-7683 or [email protected] or visit www.efexchangeyear.org.