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7 min read

Two ways to bring culture to your community

June 23, 2024

Embrace cultural exchange with EF High School Exchange Year.

Every year, EF High School Exchange Year brings thousands of high school exchange students from around the world to live with families in America. In a world where global connections are more important than ever, the opportunities to engage with and contribute to international cultural exchange have never been more accessible.

EF offers two of the most impactful ways for you to connect with other cultures: either by hosting an international exchange student and/or facilitating the process as an EF International Exchange Coordinator! Both roles offer unique and rewarding experiences that foster cultural understanding and create lifelong connections.

MN family 2022    Sakuya airport welcome    Pumpkin brothers

The joys of hosting an EF exchange student

Hosting an exchange student is an extraordinary way to bring the world into your home. It’s an invitation to experience new cultures, share your traditions and gain a global perspective in a deeply personal way. What could this look like? Imagine your dinner table as a global forum where stories from across the world are shared, new dishes from different lands become family favorites and laughter transcends language barriers.

Language lessons    German birthday

EF students come from 13 different countries throughout Europe and Asia. Each EF exchange student brings a unique cultural heritage, enriching your household with a vibrant tapestry of diversity. This exposure broadens your horizons and fosters open-mindedness and curiosity – not just in your family but throughout your local high school and greater community. Hosting takes you on an educational journey. It goes beyond textbooks and documentaries, providing you with a deeper understanding of another culture’s values and way of life.

The bonds formed during this time often extend far beyond the student’s stay. Many EF host families and students maintain lifelong friendships. These relationships often lead to reciprocal visits, regular reunions and celebrating life’s milestones for years to come.

Italy reunion    Wedding reunion    German reunion

The benefits of hosting

For families with children, hosting an exchange student provides a unique opportunity to teach values of responsibility and compassion. In addition to gaining an international sibling for life, children learn the importance of hospitality and generosity, and the joy of embracing diversity. Young children gain an older sibling to look up to, and adolescents gain a peer to accompany them through a year of high school. These experiences and lessons can help shape your children into more understanding and empathetic individuals.

First day of school    Christmas pjs-1    Airport welcome-1

Hosting with EF

EF host families come in all shapes and sizes. It’s not a requirement for hosts to have children in the home. Single adults, empty nesters and grandparents have all made excellent hosts. Many times, they choose to host again and again since hosting offers an easy way to stay connected to the local school community. EF exchange students can bring a new level of fun, excitement and energy into a child-free home.

Berlin wall    Homecoming

Get in touch

EF High School Exchange Year brings students from Europe and Asia to live with volunteer host families in the USA for a semester or full academic year. Students are 15-18yrs old, are fluent in English, have received glowing recommendations from their teachers and have a wide variety of interests and hobbies.

Host families provide exchange students with room, board and a safe and welcoming home environment. Hosts are encouraged to treat students as a member of the family – not a guest. As an EF host family, you’ll work closely with our team of matching specialists to search for and select the right student for your home.

To learn more about hosting an exchange student with EF High School Exchange Year, check us out online!

Become an International Exchange Coordinator (IEC)

Becoming an International Exchange Coordinator (IEC) with EF High School Exchange Year is a fulfilling role that combines passion with purpose. It’s a great opportunity for those individuals looking to have a broader impact on their community.

As an IEC, you’ll play a critical role in the exchange process, working to place students with host families and supporting them throughout their stay. This position is perfect for those who are organized, empathetic, enthusiastic about fostering cultural exchange and enjoy working with teens.


The benefits of being an EF International Exchange Coordinator (IEC)

Our IECs are at the forefront of promoting cultural exchange and understanding. They work closely with students from around the world, helping them adjust to their new environments and ensuring they have positive experiences.

You’ll form meaningful connections with both the exchange students and the host families. These relationships often extend beyond the program, adding a personal and enriching dimension to your professional life. By facilitating exchange programs, you become a vital part of your community, bringing people together and fostering a spirit of global citizenship. Knowing that you’ve helped create lifelong memories and fostered understanding between different cultures is incredibly rewarding. The impact of your work extends far beyond the duration of the exchange program.

IEC with student    IEC with student (2)

In addition to financial compensation, EF IECs also earn travel rewards and access to a nationwide network of support. EF offers a handful of travel and educational opportunities each year for coordinators to explore new cities and focus on their personal growth.

IEC in Greece    IEC in Norway

Making an impact

On a broader scale, participating in an exchange program contributes to global peace and diversity acceptance. Our IECs are the individuals who put our mission into practice. They actively foster cross-cultural understanding and build global families in their local community.

J. William Fulbright, an advocate for international exchange programs, once said, “Educational exchange can turn nations into persons, contributing as no other form of communication can to the humanizing of international relations.” Similarly, we believe relationships between people from different cultures help break down barriers of misunderstanding and prejudice, fostering mutual respect and empathy. In a world often divided, these small acts of connection are steps toward a more inclusive and harmonious global community.

Get in touch

To find out more about becoming an International Exchange Coordinator with EF, visit us online!

Say yes to your next adventure

Getting involved in cultural exchange will not only enrich your own life but also contribute to a more connected and understanding world. As a host family, you provide a welcoming environment and firsthand cultural immersion for a student. As an EF IEC, you expand your influence by helping multiple students and families navigate and enrich their exchange experiences. These opportunities provide a fulfilling way to engage with your community, broaden your own horizons and create life-long connections.

Hosting an exchange student or becoming an IEC with EF High School Exchange Year is more than just a temporary commitment; it’s a lifelong adventure that leaves an indelible mark on all involved. Embrace these opportunities and watch your world expand in the most beautiful and unexpected ways.

Start your exchange journey today!

Learn more about hosting with EF

Learn more about becoming an exchange coordinator with EF

MN IEC with families

Guest Contributer

Written by Guest Contributer

This article was written by a VolunteerMatch Guest Contributor.