More than a dozen years after our second and last son moved permanently from our home, a 19-year-old has moved in. She’s lived in South Korea, the Philippines and China; she graduated from the international school where our son and his wife are educators in China; and she’s attending our local community college.

Aside from having to change some of my ways to accommodate the presence of an unrelated female in my home, this has been an easier adjustment than I had anticipated. And one of the pleasant surprises is how interesting it has been to learn along with our guest about the English language and to see our local customs through her eyes.

When a word is used that she is unfamiliar with, we think up synonyms; when an idiom is used that she hasn’t heard before, we go to various apps on our mobile devices to learn about the origin of the phrase.

The county fair was a whole new experience with her in our company this year. Lake Michigan – a “fresh-water ocean” – was a wonder. The food portions served at restaurants are two or three times what she is accustomed to; but butter and blueberries are delights that disappear quickly from our refrigerator.

What my wife and I are doing is not unique. Literally thousands of families in this state alone open their homes to students from around the world to study in our schools and colleges. These interactions may be our best hope to save our planet from political and/or religious fanaticism around the world.

Michigan’s schools enroll more one-year foreign exchange students than any other state in the US, more than 2,400 during each of 2010, 2011 and 2012. If they are placed through a program listed by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), these students are immediately eligible for interscholastic athletics, for one academic year, after which they have no eligibility for one academic year.

Of concern to many athletic administrators today is the increase in enrollment of international students outside a one-year foreign exchange program listed by CSIET. These students outnumber foreign exchange students by more than two-to-one in the US.

Our immediate challenge related to this topic is to assure these students are arriving in Michigan without undue influence related to athletics and that no Michigan school uses this pool of students to gain an unfair competitive advantage in interscholastic athletics.

Posted in: Foreign Exchange


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