Exchange students stand under Utah waterfall.

Taking the Plunge

It’s always busy when our students first arrive. They go to orientation, overcome first day jitters, and meet other students. They learn a lot of things at orientation, and it can be a lot to absorb in a short period of time, especially when everyone is so excited to start their exchange year!  Some of our coordinators like to take their groups on day trips after orientation is over to find some calm, process what everyone has learned, and really get to know one another.

It is also a great time to practice the skills the students work on during orientation. Things like communicating effectively with their host families and each other, trying new things, sharing their cultures, and meeting people from all over the world. None of these are easy, and it’s important that our students know they can do things that might have seemed too difficult before they left their home countries. By the time they go back they will have done and experienced many dozens of new things they never imagined!

Here is what one of our wonderful community coordinators from Utah had to say about the outdoors experience she shares with her group of students after orientation each year.

Each year, I take my students on a hike up to a waterfall after our student orientation. Students get a chance to meet each other as I have them rotate partners during the walk. It’s not an easy hike, but when they are done, we talk about how we can do hard things.

Mehmet and Humza, along with my daughter, took full advantage of the waterfall at the top.

That is what the exchange is about—stepping out of our comfort zones with full power to take on the year. Way to go, Mehmet and Humza!

—Jamie Paskins (UT), community coordinator