July 19, 2013

Hosting; The Most Rewarding Experience!

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Photo of FLEX host and participant Host Lisa Peterson and FLEX exchange student
Lisa Petersen, a private registered nurse, has hosted many Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX) students from Eurasia. She found it fascinating how different cultures share so many similarities differently well as so many differences. The FLEX program was created in 1992 and there are now over 22,000 alumni across Eurasia. The program is vital to expanding communication between the people of the United States and the partner countries in the interest of promoting mutual understanding and respect. Students live with host families, attend high school, engage in activities to learn about American society and values, acquire leadership skills, and help educate Americans about their countries and cultures.

“I have had a curiosity about other cultures since my mother was adopted from Germany at age 14,” says Lisa. “I loved the fact that I could share my culture with someone else and perhaps change their views about Americans.”

While Lisa thinks that there are initial cultural barriers due to language differences, these are soon overcome by sitting down and talking together.

“People are people no matter where they are from, and they all need to be nurtured and loved,” says Lisa. “It seemed that no matter where the kids came from, they all knew American music and television shows. I found that to be quite interesting.”

Lisa has become more open-minded due to her hosting experiences and has learned to better embrace change.

“Instead of having prejudiced views, I find myself trying to understand the differences of others,” Lisa explains. “I think people in general live in fear of the differences when we should try to learn those differences to find more understanding of the different ways of doing things in life.”

Lisa loves all the students she has hosted as if they are her own children and is extremely grateful for the hosting opportunities she has been given.

“Hosting is the most rewarding experience that I have done in my lifetime,” says Lisa.

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