Putting Your Heart Into It: Life With Exchange Students

By Connie Polk, a Greenheart Local Coordinator

This is my 2nd year as a Local Coordinator and as I say my goodbyes to 9 amazing kids I reflect on their year, on their family’s year, on my year. It is what you make it, on every level… if you put your heart into this job, whether you have one student or 10, you will reap rewards beyond your wildest expectations.

My students know me. They know they can call me, night or day. They confide in me. They volunteer with me. They also roll their eyes (yes, I can see it, even over the phone!) but they know I am always there for them. And I know they will always remember me. ….

What has it meant to my families? For some it hasn’t been exactly what they expected, as there were trials and tribulations, but they all say there are no regrets because they know they’ve had an impact on their student’s life. For others it was a great excuse to get out more, explore their own city as well as to take trips they might not have otherwise taken, show their own children what is possible. All have taken such good care of these students, and some will return, if not now, later, to host again. We talk about the kids stepping out of their comfort zones, but everyone does in this experience and then those zones are much bigger! The benefits include parents becoming friends with other parents and I have become friends with them all. Our little corner of the world in Savannah and Richmond Hill is now just a bit more connected because of their decision to host.

Entering my 2nd year I couldn’t imagine loving these 9 like I did my 11 ‘firstborns’ from last year. Ha! Now I know I’ll fall in love every single year and by the end of my life I’ll have love to stretch all the way around the planet and beyond! I work hard for them, and they give me their all, and much, much more. I send them on their way and tell each of them to go out and change the world. Because they can and they will.

To share in the joys of hosting or working with exchange students, visit our website to learn more!