Support Exchange Programs!

November 2nd, 2011 by | Tags: | No Comments »

I recently learned of the need to take action to support funding for exchange programs by writing letters to Congress.  According to reports from both the US Global Leadership Coalition and Alliance for International Educational and Cultural Exchange, two key appropriations activities, which effects the international exchange programs, are being discussed in Washington DC.  What international exchange organizations are asking is to urge Congress to support the highest possible level of funding for international exchange programs by contacting our Congress.

While I understand the economy is in such a bad shape and budgets need to be cut, providing at least some financial support for international exchange programs is still crucially important for our country.  When studying abroad and/or living with host families, we are not there to relax on the beach or in the countryside, have fun drinking at bars, go parasailing or skiing, and do all the things that vacationers do.  We do not only study the culture and lifestyle of the country, but also the political issues and current events.  As someone who has been an exchange student and stayed with several different host families around the world in the past five years, my knowledge of the world has broadened greatly.

After having experienced many different political situations and discussed current issues with host families in different countries in the past five years, I have become a more educated voter.  This is because I have been able to see which systems work or don’t work well.  For instance, I learned about different health cares in various countries and which systems worked effectively and which ones didn’t.  Living in countries such as France where environmental laws were stricter gave me a better understanding of  how stricter environmental laws could impact my country.  By having gained exposures to strikes, I became more educated about why they are necessary for the union workers and also how it could impact the community when strikes occurred.

While having become a more educated voter, I also educated my host families and the locals about my country and culture while they taught me about their culture and country.  As a result, we created a positive relationship and learned to appreciate and respect each others’ different cultures.

Because many of the exchanges students could become future diplomats, politicians, consultants or any kind of leaders with intentions to help make the US a better place to live and travel, their experiences in studying and living abroad can greatly and positively influence the environment of the US.

If you feel that exchange programs are important, I urge you to contact your Congress by clicking here.

Rachel with her host family in Avignon, France.

Rachel with her host family in Avignon, France.

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