Support: Sometimes You Need It!
Your new son or daughter from another country is here now and everything your Local Coordinator told you about adjusting to cross-cultural life is true! Hopefully you are having a wonderful experience, but even the best hosting families encounter challenges. Some of these challenges are small and resolve themselves with a little bit of communication and a little bit of time. Others seem quite difficult and require extra patience, understanding and some extra support.
In addition to your Local Coordinator (LC), there is a team of people committed to the support of host families and students on CIEE’s High School USA Program. This team of people is known as the Support Team. The Support Team will check in with your student periodically in addition to the monthly check ins done by your LC.
It can be difficult to know when the right time is to ask for help from your LC and the Support Team. CIEE recommends that you discuss any concern you have about your student and their adjustment into your family with your LC, even if that concern does not seem significant. It is also incredibly important that you develop open communication with your student so that they know what is expected of them as they settle into becoming a member of your family.
For example: Your student has been coming home from school each day and going straight to their room. They are in their room looking at their phone until dinner. When dinner is ready, they eat with the family, but often returns immediately to their room when finished eating. You are beginning to feel that they do not want to spend time with you and your family.
What do you do?
Talk to your student. Tell your student that when they come home from school you would like to chat with about how their day went. Do they have a lot of homework or plans for the evening? If not, tell them that you would like to have them join you in the kitchen while you prepare dinner so you can get to know each other more. Tell them that you are concerned about the amount of time they are spending alone in their room because that is valuable time to be engaging with the family or with new friends.
Tell your LC. Call or write to your LC to let them know about your concern, how you addressed it with the student, and ask for more guidance, as needed. Sometimes your LC will involve the Support Team to help address an issue with the student.
When should you call the Support Team directly?
The CIEE Support Team office is open from 9AM EST until 8PM EST. The toll-free number is 1-800-448-9944; call it, and press 1 rather than leaving a message.
You should call the Support Team directly when:
- Your student has a serious medical issue
- After hours or on weekends if a serious problem occurs with your student and you are unable to reach your LC.
You can always call Support for more serious issues, though it is generally your Local Coordinator who will be your first point of contact.