Must test your wings sometime….
“I want to go to France this summer….. But, by myself.” My fourteen year old daughter is on a quest to spread her wings and fly. Yes, I took it as a mark of independence and in between a series of panic attacks that shot through my entire body, I let the feeling of excitement for her surface. I should have known that stories of my own exchange experience that I ranted and raved about would come back to bite me….. dans les fesses!
What did she want to get out of her experience this summer and what might the experience might look like? Being immersed in the language was really huge for her. True, I speak French at home with the kids. But, everyone who has raised bilingual kids will tell you that it is not the same as being in the country itself, where you are hearing it day and night. Where, essentially the environment is helping you with your efforts. Plus, learning the slang and the attitude that goes with certain expressions is really half the fun, when you’re young. She wanted to, “take in the way the French do things.” Part of that will mean that she will get to attend school for a few days. Since the French school year ends later than ours she will get a little glimpse in the daily school life; how classes are conducted, the way students interact with their teachers. That will be very fun to see, since the French are quite outspoken.
Next, we had to discuss the finances. Summer in France could be quite costly, even though the host family is assuming the room, board and trips that will be taken. The flights are certainly no longer the prices I was used to paying as a teen or young adult. (They’ve tripled.) But, when my daughter offered to pay for the trip, I knew she was serious. It also thwarted my argument. Paying for her trip, meant she would be more invested and engage in her experience.
We are still a few weeks away from the trip, but she has started to Skype her host family and communicating with the young girl that will be coming back to the U.S.; for her turn at a cultural exchange. But I can tell you that the process is exhilarating. We talk all the time about what the experience might be like. One of the things she asked the host family, was if they could go to the markets (as in the food markets) as often as possible. She is a real foodie, and wherever she goes food plays a big part in the experience.
Overall, I figure (that if I can manage to keep breathing,) I think this will be a great initiation to bigger travels and global education adventures, and peak the interests of each of my kids.
Even if your child or you are not ready to be an exchange student you can start by hosting one. It will give you a wonderful perspective on another culture and it will spark curiosity as a family!!!
Reasons to be an exchange student : read more article:
Importance of global education : http://www.outreachworld.org/article.asp?articleid=77
Why is global education so important : next article