From the view of a Local Coordinator
I would first like to say I am not biased at ALL, however, I work with some of the most wonderful, caring and loving people in Teresa Kelly and Kim Shreve. I joined ICES under the supervision of Teresa Kelly, Field Manager in WV who so happens to be under Kim Shreve, Regional Director which I would like to say these ladies wear their heart on their sleeves. They are so giving and compassionate when it comes to their job and there students. They are such amazing women with wonderful stories to tell and have been such an inspiration to me and my journey with ICES.
Second I would like to say I never imagined how BIG my heart was till I opened it for this opportunity. I took my first student this year from Sweden (Samuel) my sweet boy whom I can’t imagine life without now and have now taken on a second student from Brazil (Luiz) who is a very sweet young man. These two boys have brought lots of laughter and lots of tears to our home. This has truly been a blessing and I am so glad we made the choice to host.
Lastly I have learned I frequently like to jump into things head first and swim up. I have learned so much in the very short period of time I have been a local coordinator. I have had to overcome so many obstacles and barriers but I have done so with the help and encouragement of Teresa. Did I mention she is great.
The top things I have learned and would like to pass on are as follows:
1. Being Free Spirited and Open Minded:
Recently I had a student come to me and ask if we could talk about her homesickness and some things she was dealing with and so I was all for it. I love to meet face to face and talk. I can’t help if I can’t figure out someone else’s personality. Well needless to say she was having a communication issue and I simply explained it to her like this. Sometimes we have to be the ones to open our minds and break the barrier when it comes to communication. It’s like we have to get inside and rattle the other person personality a little and shake them up. Start talking about nothing. I’m good at that. So my student listened and the following Tuesday the host mom saw me and to my shock she gave me a big hug and thanked me for whatever I had said to her student. She was so happy because things had changed with her and her student.
See it’s not always about the host parents being open it’s also about the coordinator and the students willingness to be open and be free spirted to go out there and break the barrier and make the best of the time. We all have to make it work.
2. Having a BIG HEART:
I have learned that my heart can grow. I have three boys of my own however I have gained 10 new children this year plus the 2 new sons in my home and the many more to come. I want to make an impression on each life of every person I come in contact with. I want my students I coordinate, my schools I deal with, my families and my kids I have to always have a spot in there heart for me and always remember we did while they were here. I may not always be the nice one but let me tell you if you are doing what you should be the impression is going to be a fun and crazy one.
I love people and this is a perfect job to be in if you do. I have discovered to some degree I am not only a coordinator but I am a mom to many, a mediator, a counselor (not professional), a strict rule player, a friend and all around fun kind of person (my opinion).
3. Be Flexible:
Our students depend on their host families and us as their local coordinator. They host families totally depend on us to be there for them if they need us. I was so concerned I was not going to be able to place a student because I joined ICES in May of 2016 and then my husband was transferred for his job two hours from where we had lived for five years and I knew ABSOLUTLEY NO ONE! Well needless to say I got busy. I wanted this to work I want to experience this to the max and wow it worked I placed students like McDonalds’ makes hotcakes. I am so geared up and ready for the 2017/2018 school I can’t wait. I am already brainstorming. I had so much fun in the three weeks I had worked to place the students I did that I can only imagine what I can’t do with months to place.
Do not let todays stumps trip you up and become tomorrow’s down falls. Get out there be flexible tell everyone talk about it in the grocery line. Talk about it at your ball games take students with you so the community you care if you have exchange students with you people will see you are serious they will ask question you will get leads. Have fun and make long lasting relationship.
A HUGE thank you to Teresa for not giving up on me. I totally blew her off three times before I finally gave in and talked to her. I am so glad I did because she has not only became an awesome boss but a wonderful friend with a great story to tell. A big thank you to Kim for believing in us as team and encouraging us. I hope everyone is having a wonderful year and is enjoying America!
ICES Local Coordinator in West Virginia