FHS Foreign Exchange Program Creates Positive Experiences
Hosting a foreign exchange student gives both families and students the positive opportunity to experience how people from another culture live.
Amy Klink, a school counselor with Fishers High School (FHS), says five FHS families host full-time foreign exchange students each year.
“Each full-time foreign exchange student lives with their host family and spends the entire school year attending classes at FHS,” Klink says. “In addition to the full-time exchange students, FHS students and teachers host numerous short-term foreign exchange students and teachers throughout the year. When you add the full-time and short-term exchange students, we have approximately 75 FHS families hosting exchange students.”
FHS has five full-time foreign exchange students each year.
“This year, our students are from Spain, Israel, Kazakhstan, and two from Germany,” Klink says. “In addition, FHS hosts many more groups of short-term exchange students from various countries throughout the year. This year we had 24 students from France, ten students from Chile, 25 students from Germany, and 12 students from China. The short-term exchange students stay in Fishers anywhere from five days to three weeks.”
The foreign exchange student program gives the students and their host families the opportunity to also learn more about each other, and how they are alike, and where their customs differ.
“Aside from the obvious sharing of habits, cultures, and customs, the foreign exchange program has many benefits to the exchange students, host families, and FHS students,” Klink says. “The exchange program allows host families to showcase FHS as well as the Fishers community, our state, and our country. The best way to learn is to teach.”
Klink noted that as host families try to teach and expose their exchange students to Fishers, they too gain an added knowledge of their community.
“Host families and students take pride in all that FHS and their community has to offer,” Klink says. “Exchange students improve their English language skills, while host families and students are exposed to new languages. Exchange students also bring unique, multi-cultural perspectives to the classroom. Classroom discussions become richer and more impactful when new perspectives are introduced. This also leads to an increased tolerance and understanding of people from differing backgrounds.”
Klink added that the foreign exchange program is good for the exchange students, the host families, FHS, and the Fishers community.
“Communication skills are improved for all involved,” Klink says. “Exchange and host students are exposed to different cultures and perspectives.”
The program has also encouraged Fishers students to go to school in other countries.
“In addition to exchange students coming to Fishers, a majority of host students become exchange students themselves,” Klink says. “FHS students will be traveling to Chile, Germany, and France to stay with students who came to FHS.”
Klink says everyone at FHS has really enjoyed working with the foreign exchange student program.
“We have been so fortunate at FHS to have some amazing foreign exchange students,” Klink says. “The students who come to Fishers as part of an exchange program are typically some of the brightest, most engaged students. They bring that knowledge and enthusiasm with them, and you just can’t help but smile when they’re around.”