YFU Handbooks - Page 10

to meet the student presented on the biographical information sheet. At best, a completed form is a very limited picture of a person. In addition, students fill out the form nearly a year before families receive them. The student naturally has changed during that year. In some cases, the student may have had help filling out the application in English, which can lead to misunderstood questions or some liberal interpretations taken by the person who helped fill it out. A student may think it’s better to write what the family would want to hear; this is polite in many cultures—not dishonest. It is also common for host families to expect the new student to be just like an on-program student the host family has met, or like a student the family hosted previously. It is natural to base perceptions on a known quantity, but these perceptions are not always realistic. ••The student will fit into the family right away. It’s a beautiful thought and occasionally it happens! More likely, however, there will be a period of adjustment when the family is teaching the student what it is like to live as an American, and while the family is also learning how everyday life in the USA differs from that in the student’s country. Though students are committed to adjusting to the new habits of their American families, it is not easy for them to do so. The family can help the student adjust throughout the entire stay. ••The student will share his or her culture and self. Most students do want to share their cultural heritage 10 - CCP HANDBOOK with families, but it may be a little difficult to know how and when. In order to maximize this cross-cultural experience, the family needs to prepare themselves and be ready to offer times and places for the student to discuss her country, share its holidays and special customs, teach some of its language, or prepare some typical foods. ••The student will speak fluent English. Families may expect this to be true because of the Comprehensive English Language Test (CELT); which students took as part of their screening for the YFU Community College Program. English language abilities vary, depending on type of language teaching and the standards in various countries. It may be that the student has studied English but does not speak or understand very well. The family may learn the great value of nonverbal communication or “body language”—facial expressions and gestures —if the student’s English is weak at first. The family should be creative and, with a little effort by both parties, communication will become effective. ••The experience will be free of problems. More than one host family has told YFU that hosting an exchange student was much tougher than they expected, but was nonetheless worthwhile. Usually, the learning situations that mean the most in the long run are those which have included difficulties. At the end, most families feel that having a student was a very positive learning experience, even though it was not always perfect.