AFS foreign exchange students, aged 15-18, from India, Africa, Thailand, Europe, and South America are in need of great families in the Cleveland (eastside) suburban areas. The students arrive in August and leave in June.
UNIVERSITYHEIGHTS- Heights High incoming senior Janine Walker completed her junior year inBangkok,Thailand, with the AFS Foreign Exchange Program.
She recently spoke to the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Board of Education, thanking them for living up to their vision of P.A.S.S.A.G.E. - Preparing all Students for Success in a Global Economy. The AFS high school program has been offered to Heights High students for over 50 years.
“When I left here, I was a girl speaking the language ofCleveland Heights, and I returned speaking fluent Thai,” she said. “The exchange year was the best year of my life. I had no choice but to learn the language. My host parents inThailanddid not speak English, nor did most of my teachers. I now know what it feels like for the AFS students who come to our American schools without great English language skills, but they learn to speak well by the end of their year here,” saidWalker.
Due to horrific flooding inThailandlast October, Walker and her host family were evacuated fromBangkokto the countryside to live with her host grandmother and 11 other family members.
Because the schools in the region were closed due to the flood, she was sent by the U.S. State Department near the border ofLaosto attend school until the floods receded.Walkerhad many experiences that taught her about the Thai culture and their focus on respect of elders, which also helped her reflect on her own culture.
“My German and Italian friends inThailandwere very jealous when I told them about the opportunities at my school, the variety of AP and academic courses, the music, arts, and athletic opportunities to choose from,” she told the BOE audience.
WhileWalkerwas inThailand, her family hosted two AFS exchange students who attended Heights High this school year. These students were fromTanzaniaandSenegal. “Although a family does not have to do an exchange swap when your student goes abroad with AFS, I thought it would add another dynamic to our family this year,” said Carla Bailey,Walker’s mother.
According to Bailey, “Janine’s experience inThailandwas priceless.Thailand, while beautiful, has much poverty and is underdeveloped. Now that Janine has returned home, she has a greater confidence in herself, tolerance and respect for another culture, and a greater appreciation for her life here. It is amazing to me that people on the other side of the world, from such an extremely different culture and who don’t speak English, had the same love and care for Janine as if she were their own child.”
AFS foreign exchange students, aged 15-18, fromIndia, Africa,Thailand, Europe, and South America are in need of great families in theCleveland(eastside) suburban areas. The students arrive in August and leave in June.
If your family is interested in “Bringing the World Home with an AFS Exchange Student,” or you just want more information, contact AFS volunteer Adrienne Yelsky at (216) 371-3733 or firstname.lastname@example.org.