Being a Parent

Parent of an Outbound

Parent of an Outbound -- He/she is about to embark, now what?

  •  Students have to make many decisions on their own during the year, decisions they may not have had to deal with before. The host family and host Rotary club, will, to some degree, assume a parental role, but your student will likely have more independence and choices to make than previously. Please recognize that your son/daughter is going through a period of great change and adjustment, but must deal with that change without relying on you, several thousand miles away.
  •  Your son/daughter will need your support and encouragement. It is perfectly normal for exchange students to have bad days and experience homesickness. If you are sensitive to this, you will be able to reassure him/her that these reactions are perfectly normal. Encourage him/her to keep busy and get involved.
  •  These feelings will pass. If he/she has poured out frustrations in a letter or e-mail to you, know that by the time you receive it, those feelings have likely passed, and you should not react to what your son or daughter was thinking a day or week or more ago. Please do not react to an unhappy letter or e-mail by picking up the telephone.
  •  People are there to help and your son/daughter must learn to solve his or her problems independently. It has been our experience that long distance interference often leads to failure of the exchange, as it undermines the student's own self-confidence. Experience has also shown that a letter from home expressing your confidence in his or her ability to succeed will have a positive and lasting effect.
  •  Use your Rotary support system. Do not try to solve a problem on your own. There mat be cultural/Rotary subtleties that you are not aware of and actions taken could have long range implications. We are available 24/7/365, use us.
  •  You, as the parent, must limit telephone and or SKYPE contact to no more than monthly, in addition to special occasions, such as birthdays or holidays. Frequent calls to or from home can interfere with establishing a good relationship with the host family, and can hinder your student's adjustment and assimilation into the host country's culture. E-mail and “instant messaging” present an additional challenge.
  •  We stress throughout the orientations and exchange year that extensive communications back home keep the student mentally “connected” to home, family, and friends, and therefore “disconnected” from where they are. Such contact can delay, or may completely prevent the student from becoming “part” of the culture of the host country.
  •  Students who spend much of their time exchanging messages with family and friends back home become Reporters instead of Participants. Important relationships with host families and new acquaintances cannot develop under those conditions, and your son/daughter may find acceptance by people in the host country more difficult when “home” has a major role in his or her life.
  •  Recognize that the educational system in most countries is different than what your son or daughter is accustomed to. The level of teacher-student relationship, student responsibility, and classroom regimine will likely be quite different than in your community. While exchange students must attend school as a condition of the exchange, the real educational benefit is learning to live in a new and different environment, and students often think they are not “learning” anything in the classroom because of language barriers or teaching styles, especially during the early phases of the exchange.
  •  If your student complains that courses are too easy (or too difficult), or school is boring, please recognize that he or she may really be confronting other challenges such as a new language, making new friends and being accepted by classmates.
  •  While American high schools have many clubs, teams for every sport and season, and band, orchestra, choirs etc., most foreign secondary schools are primarily academically-oriented; sports and social activities usually take place outside of school and are organized on a community or club level.
  •  he school your student attends may offer a more -- or possibly less -- rigid curriculum and fewer social and sports-oriented opportunities than they are used to at home. Acknowledge that school will be different; but not “better or worse” than home.
  •   Respect the program, work with us and, jointly we will assure a dream becomes real for your son or daughter.

He/she has been accepted:

  •  Your son or daughter is about to embark on an exciting, enlightening, and sometimes scary journey that will be different from anything he or she has previously experienced. You have already done most of the preparation your son or daughter needs to be a successful Exchange Student, through all that you have taught and instilled in them.
  •  We have accepted this person to be an ambassador to another country because of the personality characteristics and aptitudes he or she displayed in the application and during our interview process.
  •  We believe your son/daughter can handle the challenges of living in another culture, with families different than yours, and with different rules, guidelines, and controls than those at home, and we will do all we can to prepare your student for the changes he or she will likely experience.
  •  We now need your commitment to help prepare him/her for a successful exchange by attending the Outbound Orientations that are scheduled.
  •  Much of your student's success will depend on how you help him or her prepare for these adjustments during the next few months, and how you act -- or react -- to the feelings and emotions your student will very likely experience before, during, and after this exchange year.
  •  While we certainly do not know your son or daughter as well as you do, we do know how hundreds of “typical” exchange students from past years have reacted to these changes, and offer this information to parents as an aid to you.
  •  Please start now, before he/she leaves on their exchange, to let him/her “Manage” their exchange year and plan for it. Yes, guide them, but do not do things for them. They need to take responsibility for their exchange, make decisions, follow-up on paperwork, and prepare for their year abroad. If they cannot do that before they leave, how are they going to do it when you are not there and they are thousands of miles away.