Saying goodbye...
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When you greeted your exchange student at the airport last summer, you knew this day would come. But, you may not have anticipated the depth of emotion you would feel at having to say goodbye. Your student likely feels similarly strong emotions. Even if the transition into your family and a new country was challenging, the return home can be equally emotional.

You might feel…
Sadness about saying goodbye to your host student
Eagerness for privacy with your natural family
Sense of grief at the loss of your new relationship
Confusion about what to do next

Your student might feel…
Sadness about leaving the United States
Sadness about saying goodbye to siblings and new friends
Excitement about returning home

Here are a few tips for helping your student cope with his or her imminent departure:

#1 Celebrate the Past

You and your student have experienced an exciting year together! Create permanent reminders of your memories in the form of scrapbooks, videos, or photo collages to commemorate your time.

#2 Consider the Changes

Over the past year, your student has grown older and developed certain aspects to his or her personality. Encourage discussion with your student about these changes. Share your observations about how he or she has changed. Invite your student to consider how these new traits will be received upon returning home.

#3 Anticipate the Transition

Culture shock is expected and reverse culture shock should be expected as well. Students arriving in their home countries should anticipate a range of emotions, including some negative ones. Students may feel exhausted, frustrated, homesickness for the United States, difficulty conveying the student exchange experience to friends and family back home, and loneliness. Anticipating the changes and understanding that they’re totally normal will make dealing with them easier. 

#4 Prepare for Home

What has happened in your student’s home country while he or she was in the United States? If you haven’t been doing this all along, spend the last few weeks helping your student catch up on news from home. This will happen through conversations with family as well as reading news from the student’s home country.

#5 Plan to Stay in Touch

You have become an important part of your student’s life -- a surrogate parent! Host families and students should anticipate the challenge of saying goodbye after a year of bonding. Plan to stay in touch via email, Facebook, or Skype.

Your student may appreciate a follow-up email a few weeks after the return trip to his or her home country. Remember, just like your student’s natural parents did a year ago, you should encourage your student to adapt to his or her new home life. It will be an equally adventurous move!

Finish Strong!
Encourage students to remain focused on their school work for these last few weeks. A gentle reminder that their natural parents sacrificed to send them here is all it takes.

Let's keep in touch! Remind students to check their email for a short survey to arrive next week. It will ask the best email, WhatsApp, FB, or Skype handle to reach them after the program ends. It will also provide info on how to post a short video on our website about their transition to the U.S. and again back home, or about their experience while on your Face the World Program.

Copyright © 2016 Face The World, All rights reserved.

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