Spanish exchange student learning about cultural adjustment during a workshop at the PAX arrival orientation
Eneko’s (Spain) interest is piqued by his fellow exchange student’s insights

Off To A Great Start

From cultural adjustment to problem-solving scenarios, there are no shortage of interesting and important topics to cover at an exchange student arrival orientation. Breaking up the lessons are jaunts into Manhattan—not bad! Naturally, all of the students adore the NYC tours, but many were pleasantly surprised by the workshops last week. “It was a very inspiring message,” Nanako from Japan reflected. 

In addition to enjoying the opportunity to make new friends from all over the world, the young woman was happy to play the role of “Mrs. Smith” in the performance of PAX’s classic The Ostrich and Giraffe fable. (Never seen it? Check out this standout 2014 performance.)

Importantly, every student speaks in front of the group, in English, and in a classroom setting before heading to their host com- munity. That doesn’t mean they won’t be nervous when they get called on in first period math class, but as Tianran from China noted, “It’s a great start.” We couldn’t agree with the young lady more—or with Nicole from Germany for that matter. Her favorite part was “candies.”

The candy spilled out of an opaque bag. After speculating in small groups about the bag’s contents, Nicole and others were surprised to see candy, plastic spiders, and everything in between. The exercise was the final of several analogies used to drive home a lesson about expectations for the program ahead. Like most things in life, the experience is not going to quite be what students envision. There will be plenty of sweet moments, but there will certainly be challenges along the way as well.

One lesson about expectations serves as a springboard to the next, as the groups discuss what the expectations of their host families may be. This was the most important point that Tanakrit (aka “Guy”) from Thailand took away from Adelphi, commenting that he could see potential conflicts if expectations did not align or if the lines of communication were not open.

Imagine our satisfaction when one young lady from Germany wrote that the instructors were “Very warm-hearted.” Before the contentment could set in however, she continued, “Even so, the rooms were much too cold.” Alas, it was simply building to an American air conditioning joke…

We’re looking forward to another great year and couldn’t imagine having gotten off to a better start. Thanks so much to all of the students and staff who contributed to this special issue of PAX Press—whether with jokes, interviews, or smiling faces. Last but not least, a big thanks goes out to all of our gracious host families and schools!