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Benefits of youth exchange

by John Mensinger on May 28, 2012

There are many benefits to youth exchange. You can learn or improve a second language—this is usually the primary motivation for those seeking an exchange in English speaking countries. Americans, British, Canadians, etc. rarely have learning another language as their top priority in an exchange.

Every year our Rotary group in California receives 20 or more German students for a three week exchange. The program is reciprocal—the Germans have hosted children from the American family hosting them. The Germans improve their English in California. They also improve their English by hosting the US students in Germany. The Americans are happy to experience German culture and life—90% have never studied the German language. A few of the Americans will fall in love with Germany and end up learning German. Most will return home with good memories and experiences.

Another advantage is seeing the life and lifestyle of another family. It makes a nice change from your own family’s routine and can be an interesting compare and contrast. Hosting an exchange student is often fun and beneficial. One problem I have had hosting French students is they tend to be more polite and interested in me than my own kids. I get spoiled. We have excellent conversations over dinner. Many lifelong friendships are made. A friend had an exchange brother from New Zealand for one year in high school. Twenty years later they are still in touch and seeing each other every few years. A young French lady who stayed in our home many years ago has invited us to her wedding.

My children have participated in exchange programs most of their life. As young kids they got used to having French or Japanese or Mexican visitors in the house. My daughter is studying in Scotland and living in a house with a Belgian, an Irish woman, and Swede. Both my sons are considering spending time in Europe and learning French or German. We lead better lives and our world is happier when people of different countries and cultures understand and respect each other.


World Family Exchange, Linguistic and Cultural exchanges between families


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