This story begins in 2006.
I first became involved with foreign exchange through EF Foundation for Foreign Study shortly after I was asked to join my former employer's Community Outreach Committee. I was looking for something "fun" for the committee to do and while this didn't really fit into that committee's plan it DID seem fun.
I filled out the application and then, next thing I know, I'm sitting down with a gal named Erin for an in-home interview. While I wasn't exactly in the place to become a host parent, I was brought on as an IEC, (International Exchange Coordinator). The first "season", I didn't place any students of my own, but was asked to take over the Denver area when another coordinator decided to step down.
Let me take a step back and give a rundown of a bit of the terminology. Just like any corporation or organization, EF has loads of abbreviations and special terminology. So, Season or Placement Season refers to the time from about January to August, when we are looking for great host families to match with great students. To Place or Placement means the process of matching up the student with the host family. Host family is the family that agrees to open their home and their hearts to a foreign exchange student for a high school year.
So, my first year, I supervised 6 young ladies in the Denver area. We had ladies from Germany, New Zealand, Sweden and Denmark. As the Christmas season rolled around, I decided to take a trip to Denver, pick everyone up and hang out. We spent the afternoon at the museum and then went to have dinner, OK, so a trip to the museum was "OK", but note to self, shopping would have been better...for them. :)
I went around to each of the host families, met them and of course, thanked them for opening their homes and hearts. After I gathered up all 6 girls we were off. This was sadly the first time that most of them had met. They all got along quite well and of course spent a good deal of time talking and talking and talking and...
After our adventure at the museum, we went out for pizza. THAT was interesting AND Fun. I swear the young man behind the counter couldn't take his eyes off the girls, of course, he also couldn't quite figure out what the heck I was doing with 6 girls with accents. It was a good meal and great conversation. From that point forward, our monthly conversation became much more animated as I had learned a great deal from and about them all.
Fast forward to sometime in May of 2007 and we're getting ready to wrap up the school year. I took the girls to the Denver Zoo this time. This was a better choice than the museum, mostly because the animals are "cute". We also got together for another meal and had Great conversation again.
This year was one of lots of lessons learned, great conversations with some very cool ladies and the chance to meet some very nice host families. I also started working on increasing the size of the team out here and at this time was named "Team Lead" of the Colorado portion of Team Wade. At least that's how I recall it, I could have the "dates" wrong, but what the heck, I've slept since then and I forget stuff.
Next we'll delve into the 2007-08 school year. Yes, I know it seems odd, but since we're talking about exchange students who are here for a semester or school year, everything here is based on a school year.