Hello everybody, my name is Tina and I’ve been asked to speak about how exchange programs empower today.
First question, What is an exchange program abroad all about?
Well, technically an exchange program is about living for a school year in a foreign country, attending high school in that country, and living with a host family. In Italy, the Ministry of Education promotes the experience and acknowledges the school year abroad as part of the italian curriculum. So this means that Italian students after a school year abroad continue their regular school path. Which is pretty cool because no school year is lost.
The program runs during the 4th year of Italian high school but students must enroll at the beginning of the third year to get ready for it. A year abroad empowers a number of values and cultural pillars such as building friendship, taking responsibility, respecting differences and tolerating the beliefs of others, but it’s also about learning how to be generous with what you have, being honest with others and participating in team work. Last but not least, it’s also about learning a language and understanding a social system. Above all, if we plan to use a foreign language as professionals, it’s paramount to understand a social setting in which people live, or in which something happens or develops.
So second question, What steps do parents and teens need to take to get ready for it?
The first thing to do is to understand if both parents and teens are motivated for the experience. Living a year abroad definitely requires the support of the entire family. Second step, is to understand if the program is accepted in your school and also the rules that go with it. Third step is to choose the best organization for you based on your destination, academic profile and language needs. My daughter went on exchange with Mondo Insieme, an italian organization in the business for more than 30 years. The people that work with Mondo Insieme are passionate because they’ve all lived the experience in the first place and their acumen guided us in choosing the most appropriate program and destination for our daughter.
Third question, What is it like to have your daughter in the U.S for a year?
Well, it’s a different way of living. We miss her a lot but at the same time we are proud to see how far she can stretch out from her comfort zone. When we speak with her, we understand that somehow she is questioning the status quo by living in in a different social and familiar environment. And all this is leading to discover that her fundamentals so far, are culturally relative. Plus, on the other side, she is also understanding that her small town, dull as dishwater, has its fascination.
So all together it is difficult as a mom not to be able to reach out to her right away. But you know, I’m learning how to deal with emotions and the sacrifice is triggering the opportunity to see outside of ourselves, for the entire family.
Ok, I hope I gave you some background about exchange programs and what it involve having a child abroad. This is Tina, all the best and thanks for listening to Ask Task on Learning English Matters.
Words in this story:
Promotes: to assist in making something happen
Curriculum: the classes or courses that schools teach
Enroll: to join or sign up
Pillar: an idea or fact
Tolerating: to be accepting of what someone is doing or what they believe in
Generous: to give
Paramount: very important
Organization: a group or a community
Acumen: being able to make good choices
Stretch out: to expand or go outside of what you are comfortable with
Status quo – how it is now
Fundamentals: important pieces
Dull as dishwater: to be very boring or dull
Triggering: making something happen or start
Step outside of ourselves: to try and look at something or a situation differently or to try and look at it the way someone else does
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