Congratulations to our Student of the Week – Pedro from Brazil!
CETUSA is dedicated to the mission of "reaching out to encourage a lifelong journey of global peace and understanding." We support this mission through the implementation of exchange programs for high school students - both American and international - and trainee and internship programs for university students/young professionals. This blog space is meant to continue the conversation on the value of education through experience - more specifically the experience of study abroad. There will be guest blogs here as well as announcements of resources for students, parents and teachers to learn more about study abroad and the global perspective.
Martina recently returned to Italy after her high school program with CETUSA in the United States. Read what she had to say on her final day in America:
So here we are. I can’t believe this moment would have come so fast. It seems yesterday I took a plane to arrive in an unknown country, but at the same time it seems a really long time since I’ve been here, because of all the things I could experience which will always be unforgettable memories. Words cannot describe how I feel right now-sad and happy at the same time, because leaving a life you built by yourself for such a short time makes me sad, but this experience has been the best one of my life so far, with all the beautiful and happy moments I lived.
Thanks to my American family, because otherwise without you I wouldn’t be here (and feel the oldest sister and a new member of the family and laugh all the time with you). I’m blessed to have met my crazy amazing American friends who tried to deal with my poor English and my sometimes being shy. You are all so important to me and made this experience the best, I’ll never forget you.
I’m thankful for this “new” life because it doesn’t just give me the opportunity to get to know amazing people from all over the world, expanding my horizons, to discover a new culture and see the world from another perspective. It makes me discover more about myself.
To students going on an exchange program: be ready, it will be the best time of your life, it will make you discover a lot more than you can even imagine. You will experience so many things and once you’re home again all you can say is “can we come back to page one and do it all over again?”
Thank you America, see you soon!
Many of our host families look for a student from a country where their ancestors came from, and there is certainly nothing wrong with that; they feel a strong connection with their new son or daughter due to familiarity with their culture and simply knowing that the blood ties to that particular country are prevalent. Sometimes, however, the reason for hosting a child from a certain country can be meaningful in a different way. Ray and Renita Williamson from Wisconsin are hosting Jaeuk, a boy from South Korea. They wouldn’t really consider a student from any other country because 30 years ago, this childless couple explored adopting an infant, and before they knew it, they were welcoming their South Korean baby boy, Brandon, at the airport and bringing him home to raise.
Brandon is now an adult who still lives near Mom and Dad. He’s married with two children of his own. The Williamsons had never thought of hosting a student until their coordinator asked them if they’d like to see a very special South Korean boy’s profile and letter to the family. The letter moved them to consider taking Jaeuk into their home this year, and they haven’t looked back. Jaeuk instantly became their son, and the thought of sending him back home in June almost brings Renita to tears. She still recalls the first time she got to talk to Jaeuk before he came to the U.S. She was beyond excited, and Jaeuk was ecstatic to hear that she and Ray already had a Korean son.
Brandon has been able to ask Jaeuk all about his home country, and the family wants to visit Jaeuk in South Korea in the future. This placement has been joyous in many ways–it’s not only given the Williamsons a new son, but it’s also helped their older son establish a deeper connection to the Korean culture and the country where he was born!
Ten years ago we were asked to “try out” hosting so we agreed to a short term commitment. Within days it was apparent to my husband, son, daughter and myself that this was an amazing experience and so we welcomed our first international son Bruno from Brazil. Seven years later we added his little brother Caio to our American family. At the end of the program his mother Claudia and his father Oswaldo came to personally thank us for investing in their sons and ultimately their lives. We are making plans to visit Brazil in the future so our circle can be complete. WE are still very connected via Skype, face time, email, Facebook and Instagram with the family. Although your hosting experience may be 4-6 weeks as a welcome family, 5 months or 10 months the memories and relationships last forever. Holidays and special days I often receive notes from my international sons/daughter and or their parents. It is more heartwarming than I can express.
As hosts you are told you will impact a young persons life which is true but nothing prepares you for the greatest blessing that you and your family receive. You grow your family even if it is half way around the world. Since Bruno we have had the privilege to be mom and dad and a family to three other Brazilians, 3 Germans, 1 Spanish, 1 Italian, 1 Kazakhstan, and one daughter from Denmark. Each has made an imprint on our hearts.
As an empty-nester my husband and I enjoy hosting two students now so they can be each others sibling plus we learn about two countries/cultures in the same year. At this time in the world where peace is seen seldom this is a great opportunity to truly promote global peace and understanding. By living together we learn why cultures are different and learn to appreciate those differences. It is so awesome to have an impact on how a young person views Americans and then when they return they diffuse any false stereotypes and speak highly of Americans and our way of life.
People who know me personally know that I am very passionate about hosting. I believe I am a much better person because we said yes. I would strongly encourage anyone who is slightly interested to “try it out” and you will not be sorry.
Pam Mull, CETUSA Host Family
Congratulations to our Student of the Week: Jiawen from China!
I want to acknowledge the friendship this student, nicknamed Calvin, formed with his host brother Ryu from Thailand. Ryu said he will miss Calvin. They spent the last 10 months together doing things such as playing games on their computers, eating at their favorite restaurant near our house on Fridays to celebrate the end of another school week, going to Starbucks, and eating lunch together at school most of the time.
Calvin learned how to smile in pictures. He also learned to do many chores while he was here–such as loading and unloading the dishwasher, stripping and making his bed, doing his laundry, and cooking occasionally. Many things he did were his own idea—such as bringing in the mail and taking the trash can to the street on trash day.”
He made good grades and received awards in math and chemistry for the highest scores in his class. He and our other exchange students were acknowledged at graduation and given honorary diplomas.
Hosting two students is the way to go if you are empty-nesters like us.