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.
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About the Author
An environmental lawyer since 1985, I started out as a legal editor. I spent 18 years first as General Counsel of Trexler Climate and Energy Services, Inc., a widely respected energy and climate policy consulting firm, and later as Senior Associate Counsel for EcoSecurities, an international climate policy and carbon project firm, while raising two boys. My husband, Mark Trexler, and I continue to work together on climate and energy issues, just trying to make a difference! I also do private tutoring on law subjects and LSAT exam prep. Together with my husband, I work as regional coordinator for one of the largest high school foreign exchange programs operating in the U.S. We oversee foreign teens studying in the U.S. and provide advice for students and host families. We manage a blog on cultural exchange at The Exchange Mom, www.exchangemom.com. We live with our two German Shepherds in Portland, Oregon; our younger son is in college two hours away and our older son recently moved to Washington, DC, to start his post-college adult life.
Dr. Mark C. Trexler has more than 30 years of regulatory and energy policy experience and has advised clients around the world on climate change risk and risk management. Mark joined the World Resources Institute in Washington, DC, in 1988, where he worked on the first carbon offset project, the CARE Agroforestry Project in Guatemala. He founded Trexler Climate + Energy Services in 1991. At TC+ES he worked extensively with electric sector and other energy clients, government agencies, and NGO clients on risk mitigation and adaptation strategies, including development of climate change decision-support tools such as carbon market models and carbon offset quality scoring systems. Mark directed EcoSecurities’ Global Consulting Services Group from 2007-2009 and was Director of Climate Risk for the global risk management firm of Det Norske Veritas from 2009-2012. He is widely published on business risk management topics surrounding climate change, including in the design and deployment of carbon markets. Mark has served as a lead author for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and holds graduate degrees from the University of California at Berkeley.