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Fall 2013

ICES Welcomes all High School Exchange Students and Thanks their Host Families for providing a Special Year in the USA

Letter from the ICES President Dear ICES Students, Welcome to the United States! This will be a great opportunity not only to learn about the culture and diversity that the United States has to offer, but also to gain greater insight into your own skills, strengths, and aspirations. While at first you may feel a little insecure and homesick, soon you will have a new sense of confidence and capability to thrive in the new culture, making life-long friends. Your decision to come through the ICES program is extremely important to us; your health, safety and wellbeing are our highest priority. We are always just “a call away� as you have support from your local area representative and our national office. It is our desire that you and your host family have many positive, memorable times together. Join in host family and school activities right away. The journey has just begun. Best wishes for a rewarding and fun experience. Sincerely,

Hopefully by now you have settled in with your host family and your new high school. It is not easy to leave your own family and friends and come to a new country by yourself. We at ICES applaud you for taking this big step so young in life!

Your host family is adjusting to having you as their new member. They want to learn more about you just as much as you want to learn about them. The best way to get to know each other is to communicate and to get involved in family activities.

We wish You All a Wonderful Year Full of New Experiences and New Friendships

John J. Crist President / CEO ICES

A letter arrived in July from the Otto Family in Oregon who hosted last year … … and they are hosting again this year …

Steffen got to experience the Oregon Coast in November for a week and it was beautiful. We celebrated our daughter’s 10th birthday and Thanksgiving all in the same week. We played card games, watched lots of movies and enjoyed our pajamas a lot. This was our view from Depoe Bay, Oregon (picture above).

About a month before he left, he got to have one last ride along with my favorite deputy. Courtesy of this deputy, Steffen experienced for the first time, a corn dog. He got treated to lots of beautiful views of Linn County, the area I have served as a dispatcher for Police, Fire and EMS for nearly 15 years.

Steffen arrived on August 17th, 2012. I remember having butterflies in my stomach thinking of how in the world this young man from Norway would accept us all. As he passed through the gates onto the concourse where we all stood, all I could do was give a West Albany Bulldog (the High School he attended) beller and yell welcome home! Here were his newest family members, and boy was he in for a long haul. Just 12 days prior our family endured a great shock that shook our family to the core. Steffen brought a peace to our family when we needed it most and laughter started the very first night and never stopped.

Christmas time! It’s our favorite time of year!

There were many other memories made over the 10 months Steffen was with us. He changed our lives for the better and I can only hope he feels the same about us. After he left, I went into his room where he left this display of his favorite snack on his bed. The cat pictured is Tumbles, the only cat he ever let into his room.

Steffen got to learn first-hand rather quickly how we foster hard case kittens and cats. This is a picture of his “project”, Levi. Levi came to us so sick and tiny in comparison to his litter-mates that we had to serve his meals separately or his litter-mates would eat his food too. Steffen being a dog person, didn’t quite know what to do with this little bundle of fur. He caught on quickly and Levi flourished under his care and attention.

Our outside decorations won an award in our neighborhood for Best Display of Holiday Spirit. While we didn’t get any snow, we made sure to commemorate our time together with a formal family picture around one of our two Christmas trees. Steffen definitely became FAMILY to us. We love him like a son/brother/cousin.

We took him to Crater Lake in March so he could be a GQ model for some magazine in Europe (that was a joke Steffen and my husband shared). He enjoyed the trip and laughs we continued to have. Steffen was a natural at ice skating while I discovered I had no business on ice – ever.


A day later I found the following message on the phone he used while he was here: “I love you guys - Thank you for being an awesome host family! Stay awesome, I’m going to miss you all!”. I had my answer. I’m not gonna lie -- his thoughtfulness brought me to tears and I really couldn’t write a letter about him until I was ready. I love this kid like my own, and to say goodbye to him or his family who became so dear to me over the year was very hard. So as I told him in a short letter in the memory book I made for him, “This is not goodbye, just so long for now.”

Andrea Sanchez Carreres’s Diary Andrea is from Spain and she was an ICES student in Virginia last year. She decided to share parts of the diary she wrote during her student exchange experience. Aside from dealing with the different physicality of the US basketball game and her new-found fame, Andrea also worked through another obstacle, as she is partially paralyzed on the right side of her body.

“I was born with less oxygen in this part of the body … I cannot do so many things in basketball with this part of the body. I try to, I do the best that I can, but it’s really difficult. I think if I was born with the same health in both parts of the body, I would be a completely different player.” She credits her parents for helping her through that obstacle. “They didn’t know what was the problem, since my brother, I have a twin brother, and my brother walked at 2 years old, and I couldn’t walk at all.”

About the Host Family …

About the basketball experience …

About the dreams …

I have the best host family ever,

I knew this was going to be a

Since I was a child, I dreamed about

because they are just awesome.

different year, a new experience but I couldn't imagine that it will be the best dream I will ever remember.

something wonderful, however, I did not know what was it. A year ago, I woke up, and I realized that I had the most amazing opportunity in my entire life, spend a period of time in a new place, country with another family, and now I am here, enjoying the best experience I have ever thought. Probably I need to remember what I left, but, it is stupid, because, now I have more than I really need.

I cannot imagine another host family or other people better than them, I don't know if one day I will appreciate enough everything that they are doing for me. I couldn't think to find anyone like them, but I came and they changed myself forever, it is something unbelievable, it is beautiful and wonderful at the same time, when I think the chance I have I wanna cry, because, I know that this is going to be over, but I don't wanna let it go, for the simple reason that being in this Family I learnt that it is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, and Rebecca the mother and Mike the father.

I love my host family Rebecca, Mike, Lindsay, Hailie, Mallory, Nathan and Blake.

Sharing experiences from you! We would like to encourage all students and host families to share some of your student exchange experiences so we may publish them in our next newsletter. Contact your Area Representative and he or she will forward your information to the ICES Newsletter Department.

One of the reasons are my ladies hawks, I played with a lot of teams, and even more players, however this time, this year was unbelievable, I cannot say what was the best moment I have lived with them, because, each of the things that I have past during my wonderful basketball season have been special for me. I will never forget how much they have done for myself in just seven months.

We know that we have done well, we should be able to recognize how much effort we have put in everything we did, but, I think we just have to remember how much we have learnt from each other, and the fun time that we have had all together as a group.

Every person has a story, every single lady in this team has something different, nevertheless, we put all our abilities together to make basketball something unreal.

I live a continuous dream with the most incredible family I have ever met, Dalton's family. I am very glad, please, grateful and proud of them, because they did not have the obligation of give me this chance, nevertheless, they did, therefore I must appreciate it.

Three months ago everything began, and I arrived to Lynchburg's airport in a really tired flight. I was trying to find my luggage, but, suddenly I saw the greatest picture in the human's history. My family was waiting for me, Hailie, with her big smile, was holding a big poster, which had this written, 'WELCOME ANDREA'. The most beautiful thing is that they were together as the big family they really are. I will always remember that moment, because, there I was the happiest girl in the world.

Thank you for give your love, understanding, respect and all values that you have, without expect anything'. If I never knew you, I would not know how precious life can be.


For Students The 2013-2014 academic year has just started and you and other high school exchange students are about to begin a journey of a life time …

Counselor’s Corner

While at first you may feel a little insecure and homesick in your new environment, soon you will have a new sense of confidence and capability to thrive in the new culture, making life-long friends. Always remember that you are serving as your country’s ambassador while in the United States, so make a great impression by following the ICES rules, being respectful and considerate of your host family, school authorities, those within your host community, and your area representative. Review your ICES student handbook frequently as it contains valuable information to help ensure that your visit will be a successful one. We are so excited to have you onboard the ICES program. We assure you that your health, safety and well-being are our highest priority. We are always just “a call away” as you have support from your local area representative and our National Staff at our toll free number: 1-800-344-3566. You may always email me at Please don’t ever hesitate to contact us! We wish you much success with your exchange experience!

For Host Families Thank you so very much for opening your home and heart to an ICES International Exchange Student! We are so excited that these students are beginning a journey of a lifetime - all because of you! This is the first of several newsletters you will be receiving from us during your exchange experience. Each issue will be filled with information, stories and tips to help you adjust with your student. There are also many other sources of support available to you on this adventure. The best support will naturally be given directly from your local Area Representative, but you may also call ICES national office at 1-800-344-3566 or email if you have a particular hosting question. Useful information may be found on ICES website or at ICES Facebook page We truly appreciate your generosity and are honored to welcome you to the ICES family. Sincerely,

ICES National Office 5556 Stage Road Concord, VA 24538 Phone: 434-993-1973 or 1-800-344-3566 Fax: 434-993-9129 Email: Website:

Bonnie Gunter ICES Director of Student Affairs


ICES Travel Partner ICES works closely with Belo USA Travel for student tours and travel arrangements. More detailed information about each adventurous student travel package may be found on their website. To start, just login at: Login User Name: ICES Password: GLOBAL Please understand that some of the tours available will take place during the regular school semester, starting in February. Make sure you have the permission from your school, host family and natural parents to participate. Talk to your Area Representative and he or she will help you to get the required authorization.

Money Matters Remember to be mindful of your financial responsibilities while here in America. Your host family is to supply you with room, board and a loving environment. You are responsible for paying school lunches, school supplies, personal items and clothing. Do not ever borrow money from your host family and it is best to make international calls using a calling card. It is your own responsibility to contact your natural parents to receive additional money if needed. If you have any questions as to what your responsibility is financially, then talk to your host parents or Area Representative to avoid any misunderstanding.

Accidently ‌

Always let your Area Representative know

Emergencies happen and we want you to know we are here to help! An ICES staff member is only a phone call away, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

If you are planning to travel anywhere with your host family or on a school sponsored and chaperoned trip, your Area Representative will not need to submit a travel release form to ICES on your behalf.

In the event that you have an emergency, here are some simple steps to follow so that you can get the help you need right away.

All other travels will require the travel release form to be approved.

1. Contact Your Host Family or Area Representative. 2. If they are not available to help, you can contact the ICES National Support Center at (434) 993-1973 between 9am and 5pm (Eastern Standard Time), Monday through Friday. 3. If it is after-hours, please call the Emergency Help Line at 1-800-344-3566. Be prepared to state your name and the reason for the emergency. Please speak slowly and clearly and always remember that we are here to help you!


If you have any questions, talk to your Area Representative or feel free to call the ICES National Student Support Center at (434) 993-1973 or email at Travel release forms are available from your Area Representative.

Second Chance … … An Amazing Experience

My family had tried hosting two exchange students last year, but we didn’t have a good experience. Since it was our first experience with hosting a foreign exchange student and it was such a negative experience for us, we swore that we would never try hosting again.

In February our ICES coordinator, Michelle, sent us an application for a girl. I don’t remember where the girl was from or what her name was. I just remember sending an e-mail back to Michelle that she was crazy to think we were going to do it again. Well Michelle knows us too well. My husband and I stewed and thought about hosting for several weeks. We were so envious of the relationships and experiences that other host families were able to have last year with their students and we longed for a positive experience of our own.

We were nervous about trying to

When Michelle asked for volunteers

host again, especially with having three small children (ages 5, 3, & 3) of our own. We didn’t want them to become attached to someone that didn’t feel the same way about them. After a lot of praying and discussions with each other we decided to give it one more shot.

to write for the newsletter I jumped at the chance. I wanted to share our experience with other host families, because it’s important to know that even though we had a negative first experience we were willing to try this again because we knew that the experience we had hoped for was out there.

When we read Enna-Miina’s

I have encouraged other families to

application we knew she would be a great fit for our home.

host this year because of our relationship with Enna-Miina. She is really an amazing girl. We are learning so much about life in Finland. We have been able to view our own little corner of the world with renewed eyes after showing Enna-Miina what life is like here in Southwest Wisconsin. I know that we have gained a new member to our family for the rest of our lives. I am grateful to Michelle for encouraging us to try this again and I am thankful to ICES for bringing this fantastic girl into our lives.

We have been e-mailing and Skyping with Enna-Miina since March. Before she arrived we had formed a bond with her, but I never imagined that this beautiful, funny, caring girl from Finland would become such a huge part of our family from the very first day she arrived.

Having Enna-Miina in our home this last month has been such an amazing experience. She is helpful. She is eager to share in our families activities. She treats our daughters like the sisters she never had at home. She has fit so seamlessly into our home and our family that I can’t believe she has only been here for a month. It feels as though she has always been a part of our family.

this year will bring you closer to what it feels like to be a world citizen


‌ and more stories and pictures are coming in from all over the USA ‌ MONTANA ICES welcomed 18 students into SW Montana this August. Several of these students are already playing on the high school soccer, football and track teams. Here are some pictures from their first ICES event.

ALABAMA: ICES student Juliette from France - Student of the Week

Student Orientation in Houston, Texas 18 of our ICES students, representing 12 different countries! -7-

Rogue River Jet Boat Trip, Oregon 2013 100 ICES exchange students and host family members had the opportunity to enjoy this annual event on the Rogue River Jet Boat in Oregon. This was their best turnout ever!

Oregon Ducks Football Game 20 students from the Oregon coast got to watch the nationally ranked Ducks beat the Tennessee team. What's more American than college football? Sharmaine from Hong Kong and Jolien from Belgium on a shopping spree with their host sisters Sassy and Ella We went to Logan for shopping on the third week. Jolien needed to buy some clothes for school and I bought a pair of flat shoes for my choir performances. We had free ice cream and bought some corns on the way home too. We had a great day there! I can definitely felt the differences between US and my home country, US is really an awesome place! ICES Exchange Student Sharmaine, Preston, IDAHO


ď Š

Homecoming in Idaho Homecoming is an annual US tradition where the schools welcome back the former alumni, and hold a football game followed by a dance. This year’s homecoming week in Idaho was filled with crazy events! Pajama day, crazy hair day, and even powder puff football (girls play instead of boys).

Berit from Germany let her host mom snap a few photos before she and her date were leaving for the dance in Malad, ID.

Luisa from Germany is with her date just as they were leaving for the dance in Preston, ID.

Alabama students gather to watch ‘the Tide’ roll! Show Appreciation … and Give Back ! Your Host Family play an essential role in your Student Exchange experience, but there are many other people in your community involved to make this year a successful one, your school, class mates, teachers, friends and their parents just to name a few. They all contribute to make your high school year a memorable year in your life. Please show your community your appreciation and ‘Give Back’!

ICES encourage you to plan a special Community Service activity with other ICES students in your area. And why not invite your friends and host family, it is so much easier and fun to work together with others. We guarantee that your host family will be proud of your initiative. Talk to your Area Representative to get ideas and support!


welcome to

america party “Some of the students had just arrived to California a couple of days before, some had already spent a little time here and it was time for all of them to meet each other”. The perfect way of doing so? Lisa Book, ICES Area Representative threw a Welcome To America Party, to where all her foreign exchange students were invited.

Swimming, barbecue and a lot of chatting between countries and continents filled the afternoon of August 24th.

Mark and Deborah Collett in Jessup, Iowa have been ICES host parents for many years. This is a letter they have sent after visiting some of their ‘old’ exchange students in Europe last summer …

Julie and her parents took us to see an original Viking ship that was unearthed in 1940 and the home of Hans Christian Anderson. Also we visited a beautifully landscaped castle complete with dinner and fireworks.

Some host family members had the time and luck to join the joyous gathering and go over the rules of the program again.

We started with Joanna Riedl from Bad Homburg near Frankfurt. We have visited her family several times, but this time we got to see areas we have not seen before. Henry took me to a huge museum south of Frankfurt where they have all sorts of old cars, airplanes, tanks and trucks. The most interesting airplanes were an original Concord and the airplane the Russians made that looks like a Concord. We also celebrated Henry’s mother’s birthday with 3 huge cakes. Of course we had to have a piece of each.

Making the student orientation a group event, topped off with cupcakes and red, white and blue decorations, was something that brought life in to the seriousness of the program rules. It was a fun group of people, and they will for sure meet up soon again.

While in Italy Fede and her brother Stephano took us to Venice by train and her parents took us to Verona (including a wine tasting tour) and Lake Como. Our next stop was in Prague to see Eliška Mazanová. Eli walked us all over the city to see the beautiful sights. The Charles Bridge, the Prague Castle and numerous churches were outstanding.

Eighteen days in all. What a fantastic vacation!

We then flew to Copenhagen to see Julie Sorige. We travel by car to her home town of Odense on the isle of Fyn. We started out with dinner at Julie’s house. (It was built in 1778).

Our final stop was in Milan to see Federica Parravicini. She actually stayed with another host family, the Ricklefs while she was in Jesup, but spent a lot of time at our house visiting Julie and Eliška.

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We got home on Monday July 29th, exhausted and on Saturday one of our new students arrived, Anna from Sweden. And on Monday August 5 Magdalena arrived from Austria. They are both sweet girls and I think they both will do well this year. Best regards, Mark Collett, Jessup, IA

Rewards and Memories of a Year with Javier “Beth, can I ask you a question?” “Of course” “What does beagle mean?” “Oh, it is a small to medium sized, usually black, brown and white hunting dog” “No not that, you say big ole’ feet and big ole’ car and big ole’ house…” “Oh, that is West Virginia hillbilly for something large. Now you speak hillbilly Spanish” “Okay”

W hat a great year we have had as we added another son to our family. Javi is an incredible young man and has represented Mexico well. He came with the attitude; “Ready or Not Here I Am” and jumped head first into the swim team, track team, stage production, all while excelling with a 4.0 in his classes.

Just a normal conversation around our house and one that Amaya Gomez O Patron initiated 12 years ago when she was our foreign exchange student. She was the third of five exchange students we have hosted.

This past year her brother, Javier Gomez O Patron, joined our family during his junior year at Gahanna Lincoln High School.

The other four students had not been with ICES, so my husband and I were quite surprised at the involvement and time spent by Kim Shreve, ICES Regional Administrator, with us and the students. She organized many gatherings and extensive travels for the students/families. She attended swim meets, ball games, graduations and became part of the student’s lives. With coordinators like Kim, it is no wonder ICES is a leading exchange program for students from all over the globe. I can recommend (and have) ICES above the other exchange programs.

In 2011, my husband and I flew to Cabo, where the family now lived, to meet Amaya’s fiancée. Javi was now 15 years old and asked us if we would be his host parents for school year 2012-13. It seemed so far away at the time, but August 3, 2012, was here before we turned around.

this young man and wish him the very best in all he does. He is interested in coming back to the USA to attend Ohio State University. We would be elated if it works out financially and logistically that this dream comes true. It will be a fine day, when we can welcome our youngest son back home!

I found it hard to put into words my

Javi embraced each and every encounter as an opportunity and has such a keen instinct on reading people and knowing how to interact with all types of persons and situations. He often surprised me with his maturity but at the same time maintained his innocence in many ways of the world; which I found very refreshing in this day and time.

W e first met Javi in 2001 when we visited Mexico City and Mazatlan, Mexico, after Amaya had spent the year with our family. He was 5 years old at the time, such a smart, cute little boy, who loved to swim.

W ords can’t express how much we love

Javi appreciated and enjoyed every whitewater trip, every visit to the relatives, learning card/board games with the cousins, skiing trips, etc. that we took him on.

He was such a delight and feel in love with our extended families and our two pound pups. They of course all felt the same about him. He just fit.

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feelings as Javi walked through the security on his way back to Mexico, but I think he summed it up perfectly (as always) when he posted this message on Facebook the day of his return: “Yesterday I got back from 'Murika, and I just wanted to say thanks to every single person who made this possible and also thanks to the ones that made this year one of the best (if not the best) so far. I met tons of amazing people and made a lot of friends, not only Americans but from all over the globe. I visited a bunch of beautiful places and I learned a LOT. But one of the most important things I learned is that family is not only connected by blood. Beth, Haley, Cody and Dave and the whole extended family THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR EVERYTHING!! I couldn’t have asked for a better family. Thanks to every single member of the family for accepting, supporting and loving me as another member of the family. Love you all and I’ll see you sooner than you think!”

Make a Difference! If you would like to share this wonderful opportunity with a family in your community or if you know of anyone who is interested in working with our program, please contact your local ICES Area Representative or ICES National office at toll free phone 1-800-344-3566, website or email We would love to speak to friends, family, neighbors, co-workers in your area about the opportunity to Make A Difference and to Build Bridges of Friendship Around the World. Thank you for sharing this wonderful opportunity You will help to fulfill a student’s dream

Hosting an Exchange Student is more than just Hosting, it will open up the World and Change your Life in many Amazing Ways

You may want to tell us some of your traditions and holidays that you celebrate in your country. Maybe you are on a sports team, or in a club and you would like to share some of the experiences for others to read. We encourage you to drop us a few lines and let ICES know how your time in America has been so far. You may e-mail your thoughts on your experiences to or you can tell your Area Representative and he or she will send us your information.

Bringing the World Closer … One Smile at a Time ! © 2013 International Cultural Exchange Services | 5556 Stage Road, Concord, VA 24538 | P: 800-344-3566 | F: 888-223-5651 |

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Share Your Stories

Ices newsletter fall 2013 (1)  

The ICES Newsletter Fall 2013 is here … Enjoy the stories from Exchange Students and Host Families around the country. This newsletter h...

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