Lindsay Zimmerman (left) with exchange students Adomas Gatelis from Lithuania, Leonardo Venturino from Italy, and Lori Tibbett.
The Matchmaker SHE MATCHES FOREIGN STUDENTS WITH LOCAL HOST FAMILIES
ahoe Park resident Lindsay Zimmerman is a local coordinator for CCI Greenheart, a nonprofit that connects Americans with international students through cultural exchange programs. Here, Zimmerman describes what it takes to coordinate visitors from all over the world and place them with host
JL By Jessica Laskey Meet Your Neighbor
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families in the greater Sacramento area.
lucky that it’s turned out to be such a great organization.
What got you interested in working with CCI Greenheart? I had always traveled abroad for much of my life. I lived in Spain as a college student and taught English in Japan in 2008. When I got married and moved from Arizona to California, I wanted to keep my international connections. I decided to bring the world to me and Googled “working with exchange students.” I found CCI Greenheart and got an interview with Lori Tibbett (the executive regional director of the western region, who lives in Curtis Park). I feel really
You’ve been a local coordinator for seven years. What does that entail? We’re the middlemen between the students, the host families, and family members back home. We monitor the students as required by the Department of State. There are new requirements every year for how best to keep kids and families safe, so we get recertified through the Department of State every year. CCI Greenheart receives applications from kids all over the world at their Chicago headquarters. Then, they
send those applications out to their field offices to match applicants with local families. Once we place a student with a host family, we do an initial home visit, and then a second home visit about a month after the student arrives. And we have an email, inperson, or phone visit once a month and at least one in-person visit per semester. What’s the hardest part of the job? My biggest challenge is finding a family willing to take on a student for a 10-month academic year and then finding them space at a school. McClatchy is one of the schools