Counselor’s Corner

September Counselor’s Corner

By Karen Hilgefort: Greenheart Exchange High School Program, Program Advisor

Welcome to September, Greenheart participants and host families!

As you embark on this potential life-changing experience, I would like to share a quote by a former Greenheart participant, then offer a few suggestions.

As she was about to return home at the end of her program, Claudia from Spain found that the anticipation of coming on program didn’t compare to the growth she experienced, or memories made with her host family and friends. “It’s not what you expect, it’s even better because it’s real” she told me.

A few suggestions

  • Begin this experience with the farewell in mind.
    • What do you want to do during this program?
    • Who do you want to be during this experience?
    • What do you want to have?
  • Get involved!*  Jump in.
    • Brainstorm ideas, make plans, and then follow through!
    • Gather inspiration from other host families and students.
    • Host a welcome party.  Create game cards with questions about each culture.
    • Hang a colorful calendar to share for a visual reminder of upcoming special events and activities.  Communicate which activities matter most to you.

*Keep in mind that some people are more hesitant than others to initiate conversation, especially at first. What might be perceived as disinterest may be due to overwhelm, cultural differences, or personality of the student or host family member. Your patience and encouragement towards each other will be appreciated!

  • As you begin this adventure together, be sure to make reading your Greenheart Host Family and Student handbooks a priority. Then I recommend you eat ice cream while discussing:
    • How much time on electronics is too much?
    • Typical adjustment challenges and culture shock
    • Transportation needs

Reach out to your Local Coordinator or Greenheart with any questions or concerns!

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