World travelers

. February 8, 2013.

At 15, Coline has traveled to London, Belgium, Italy, Netherlands, Senegal, Spain, Morocco and Tunisia, but most recently she looks forward to her first trip to the U.S. to discover the American way of life for a few weeks. How has someone so young already traveled the world on her own? With the help of World Exchange, a non-profit that facilitates international/intercultural student exchanges to promote understanding and respect amongst world cultures.
World Exchange caught Yvonne and Tom Goodwin’s attention in 2006. The pair read a small article seeking host families for exchange students. By the time they responded there were no longer any students to be placed. However, the organization kept the Goodwins on file and a year later they hosted their first student. In 2008, the Goodwins started a journey of their own with World Exchange as new executive directors, and placed their first group of students with host families. Since then World Exchange has offered two groups of students each year an opportunity to be placed with host families. This July marks the Goodwins’ third year of involvement and they’re seeking families to host a group of 12 to 15 students over the summer.
Vast inspiration
“The students are so inspiring,” says Tom Goodwin. “They’re usually 15-17 years old, far from home and happy to be here. Even more inspiring are the host families, who may not know what they’re getting into the first time, opening their homes to teenagers. They go out of their way to make sure the experience is great for the student and their own family. Most families stay in contact and have friendships which span the oceans. These families do not receive payment for hosting  they simply do it because they want
the experience,” says Goodwin.
Open and engaging
According to Goodwin, an open mind and engaging activities are important when it comes hosting a student. “We tell people to treat their guest as their visiting niece or nephew, treat them as part of the family. Although understand that you will end up spending extra time making sure they have a good time, just as you would for your relative. For instance, instead of weeding the garden Saturday afternoon, go to a local festival,”
he advises.
World Exchange currently seeks working families with children, with teenagers and without any children to host French students. Families who can offer students insights into the life of
an American teenager, take them places and expose them to American culture are ideal choices. “It’s great for your family, especially kids, to be exposed
to a different culture,” says Goodwin.