Greenheart has a network of Local Coordinators who work diligently across the USA to find the best host families for international high school exchange students and who then work with those families and students through the school year to make sure everyone has a great experience. It’s an important role that is not without its own set of challenges for new LCs. Nancy Stubbs has been an LC for almost 20 years, and we’ve asked her to share her experiences through the years.
Seventeen years ago I became a Local Coordinator because I loved to travel and enjoyed working with teens. I knew nothing about High School exchange, but thought, “These kids need someone who will keep them safe and I will do that for them.”
I was working with a different organization back then. The learning curve is large for this job, especially since it is part-time. My first year I placed and monitored two students. The first student was fabulous, but the second one really struggled. It was the blind leading the blind and it was a challenge. Yet, I had a desire to learn. And we worked it out. About 10 years in, I became an Area Coordinator. I wanted to be sure my TEAM never felt alone like I did in the early years when I was with a different organization. So, today, as a Greenheart Regional Manager, I am VERY available to my new LCs. I am a knowledgeable guide for them.
There are a couple of challenges…particularly when you first get started. First, finding Host Families can be difficult in the beginning. You have no network AND there are so many details you don’t know, so its hard to have confidence in what you are doing. The second challenge is when students are not successful for a myriad of reasons. Thankfully most students ARE successful, but those that aren’t require extra attention. Finally, when you’re just starting out, it won’t pay very much. You have to have a deeper motivation then just money. There are a lot of responsibilities–so you really must love what you do. You have to decide the program is a value to everyone when it works well. And it helps to see your role as a volunteer doing something that really matters. With experience, it’s possible to get good enough to build your network and make a real side income.
There are so many “best” parts. Knowing these kids has been so valuable. Making friends with host families gives you hope in this crazy world. Seeing a student grow and thrive is so fun. Having friends all over the world (and visiting them and staying in their houses) is enriching. Making friends with other LC’s and staff is satisfying. And sometimes, there is free travel to conferences for LCs who have placed a lot of students. Earning free travel is incredible. I have been to many countries–many because I earned a trip as a successful Local Coordinator/Regional Manager.
Being a Greenheart Local Coordinator broadens every part of your life. Even the news is more interesting because when they talk about a country, you just might have a friend there!
If being a Local Coordinator appeals to your sense of adventure, visit PlacewithGreenheart.org to learn more and apply.