By: Marina Hevia-Aza
Greenheart’s Short Term Program department has different programs to choose from, one being Independent Homestay. In the program, participants come to the U.S. to experience cultural immersion (standard), to volunteer, to be a language buddy, or to shadow a student in high school visits.
High School Visit programs are a great opportunity for students from different cultural backgrounds to immerse themselves in their host communities. Arisara Saengsompong, a student from Thailand who spent one month studying in Loganville High School (Georgia) told us all about her experience.
Arisara learned many new things from her experience, some about herself, like how to take care of herself when being apart from her parents. And about American culture as a whole, for instance, she learned to say “bless you” after someone sneezes, or how in the U.S. people can start driving at 15, while in Thailand they cannot start driving until turning 18. Arisara says she learned a lot about the “language, weather, American living, economy, politics, environment and people” in the US.
Arisara wants anyone who is considering participating in this program to know that she believes this is an amazing opportunity and an experience she will never forget. She says that “the staff and all of organizers are so kind and take good care of you. Greenheart has a good process and good members who help you connect to the community.” This program helped her meet many new people and learn a lot about the U.S.
When it comes to her favorite memories of the program, Arisara says that she has many good and funny memories. She loved going through the American school process, which helped her learn many things about American culture. She says her favorite memory is eating American cookies, which she enjoyed with her host family.
Cultural exchange programs expose students to so many new traditions, activities and foods. Arisara tried tacos for the first time during her time in the U.S. She also tried peanut butter for the first time, which she said became one of her favorite sandwich ingredients. Her new favorite fast food is Chick-fil-A, which she tried for the first time with her host family. Her host family also took her to the Coca-Cola museum and the Human Rights museum. She went with her High School, (Loganville HS), to the Georgia Aquarium. Arisara went to summer camp for the first time, where she did many new things like horseback riding, climbing and archery. She loved this experience, which she shared with her host brother.
Arisara loved her experience in the High School Visit program, and she wants to tell her host family that she thinks they are very nice and kind. She wants to thank them for everything, for taking care of her and loving her. She wants them to know that if she ever gets an opportunity to come back to the U.S. she will definitely go visit them!