Parent Letter for Exchange Student Application

When my youngest told me, a few months back, that she wanted to go to France as a foreign exchange student next year, I didn’t panic. I knew it would be a long process and, by leaving it up to her to find out what she had to do to make it happen, I would know if she was really serious about the idea.

She talked to a counselor at school, contacted the agency that arranges the exchanges, and, with interviews happening on Monday (this Monday!), worked all weekend on her ten-page application. I had to contribute a letter that would serve to introduce my daughter to the host agency and families. Since this was much of the writing I did today, I thought I’d share it on my blog.

November 3, 2013

To the club and families who will host Amelia –

Thank you, thank you for all the care, time, energy, and teaching you will provide for Amelia while she is in the Rotary Youth Exchange Program. We are both looking forward to an amazing experience for her.

You will quickly discover that Amelia is a happy and easy-going young lady. She wakes up ready to embrace each day and wants to take advantage of every opportunity that comes her way. During her first year in high school, she joined the softball team, the swim team, and the lacrosse team, the latter of which she had never played. She hadn’t even watched the sport before! She is appreciative of the people in her life who care for her—her family, her friends, her teachers and coaches. She demonstrates her appreciation with an unwavering positive attitude and by helping out whenever she can. She is a real leader with her group of friends—organizing sleepovers, hikes, river floats, costumes—and manages the details to make things happen. She laughs and smiles and tries to make everything fun and put others at ease. She is reliable, predictable, respectful, responsible.  I like that Amelia does her homework at the kitchen table and visits with me while I work in the kitchen and that we always have good conversations in the car. It is always a pleasure to have her around.

Amelia has always been socially and emotionally mature for her age. She is tolerant and even-tempered. She wants to understand different points of views, different cultures, different beliefs. It seems she can always understand and, on top of that, appreciate the decisions I make as a parent in regards to her—how much money she can have, where she can go and how late she can stay out, why she needs to clean her room, and the few instances when I have had to impose consequences or take away a privilege. The only times that I see Amelia get frustrated are when issues arise in her group of friends and things aren’t as harmonious as they once were and therefore could be. I have also seen her disheartened when she doesn’t do as well as her peers in sports. She makes good decisions and appreciates others’ points of view, so disagreements and discipline are a rarity with her. She is nearly always a complete joy.

I have seen Amelia go after a lot of things in life, even if she knows they will be challenging. She takes some hard classes in school and has to balance time for lots of homework, sports practice, and time with family and friends. When classes get difficult, she talks to the teachers and finds out what she can do about it. This past spring she suffered a concussion and had to navigate the confusing process of how to finish up her classes for the year when she wasn’t able to attend full days or concentrate on school work. It was challenging in that each teacher wanted to handle it differently. She had to be proactive and assertive and, in the end, her grades did not suffer much at all. Also, last spring, Amelia went through challenging lifeguard training and then worked as a guard and swim instructor during the summer. It was a high stress job and she was one of the youngest employees, but she did great. Amelia does not avoid conflict—she will talk to her teachers, me, or her friends when there is an obvious issue—but she also does not create it. She just isn’t that type of person.

As I mentioned earlier, Amelia is quite mature for her age. She worked all summer and saved her earnings and rarely asks me for spending money. She takes care of all of her homework on her own, only asking for help when she truly does not understand something. She is the type to get an entire group of people organized, including who’s driving, how many can fit in each vehicle, departure times, and all of those sorts of details, and then just run it by me to make sure it’s okay. Essentially, she does what I feel that I, as a mother, should do. At age 11, Amelia wanted to live with her father “to give him a chance” and was not one bit afraid to leave her mom. A few years later, she thought it would be best to live with me again and did not show a single fear in leaving her friends and starting over in a new school. To her, it was an opportunity, an adventure. When she mentioned being an exchange student, I told her to check into it, learn what it takes, and get going with the process. This was my way of determining if she was serious about doing this. That’s exactly what she did, with really no assistance from me. There is no question about it, Amelia is independent.

I am proud of Amelia for embracing life to the fullest. She tries many things at school—hard courses, sports, student activities. She also enjoys our community and participates in all sorts of events. She notices beauty around her—nature, city scenes, children—and captures it all in pictures or is sure to comment about it. Amelia asks questions about things she doesn’t fully understand, such as politics, articles she might see in the newspaper, or ideas she is learning about in school. She is curious and interested and appreciative and because of this I really enjoy her company.

Though I will miss her dearly, I hope that Amelia has the opportunity to be an exchange student, mainly because this is what she wants to do. This is her idea, she is trying to make it happen, and if it does, I know that alone—the fact that she was able to bring it to fruition—will be just as gratifying as the actual experience will be. Also, Amy loves her French classes and wants the opportunity to learn the language on a whole other level.

It will be easy to have Amelia in your home. She is quiet around the house and respectful of others and shared living spaces. She will truly be grateful for anything you do for her and will return your kindness with positivity and respect and by not being burdensome in any way whatsoever.


Randee Bergen