Open the world up to students
I have always been the type of school administrator that believes in providing my students every opportunity to explore the world.
When you open the world up to students, then they have a better chance of fulfilling their dreams and contributing wonderful things to society. We can open the world up to a student in many ways but one very effective way is to host exchange students. Our students form relationships with students of other cultures. They learn about their beliefs, their customs, their daily routines of life, their traditions, their forms of entertainment and most importantly their values toward other people.
I recently got to know Hanna, one of our exchange students from Australia, when our school chorus traveled to New York City over Spring break.
I observed how my students have bonded with her and laughter she brought to many of them. My students were inquisitive about how Australians react to different situations. She was not shy to share. What a wonderful experience for my students as some may never have an opportunity to travel to Australia. Maybe some of my students will grow a passion to travel to other countries by this experience.
Hosting exchange students is an easy way for a school to bring other cultures to life for students.
We can read books, watch videos, share stories and use our imagination but the experience students gain from one of their peers from a distant land cannot be matched by methods we present here. I often see our exchange students on campus and they are full of life and so excited about experiencing our American culture. My students are captivated by these experiences.
Hannah plays sports, sings in the choir and has immersed herself into our school community where she has forged so many relationships.
I can think back to high school when I befriended an exchange student from New Zealand. I grew up in a small Indiana farm town so imaging an island far away with waterfalls and lush landscape was something I thought I would never see. From that experience I have traveled the world for many years visiting every continent. I know my students are gaining some exposure to our world by hosting exchange students and whatever they take away from the experience can only enhance their journey in life.
Matthew T Smith
Assistant Principal for Curriculum
Freedom High School, Tampa, Florida