Life in the U.S.

Why You Do What You Do!

Today we are shining the spotlight on a few of our wonderful International Coordinators from across the US! These ladies all have other work commitments and are parents themselves! Read more to hear how they balance it all while making special memories year after year with our host families and exchange students! 


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How/why you got involved as an Aspect Coordinator?

I was scrolling Facebook one day, almost 5 years years ago and came across a post looking for a host family for a girl from Argentina. She was already here and attending the same high school as my boys. I love working with kids, especially teens! So when I read that post, I thought, “Wow! Now that’s a different angle I have never thought about before! What a cool opportunity to get to learn about cultures all over the world, from my own living room!” Three months after hosting, I KNEW I wanted to be more involved. I wanted to make a difference with more than one kid at a time! So, I became a coordinator! Now I get to make a difference in about ten kids’ lives per year!

– Glenda, Coordinator in Texas

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My family has hosted exchange students since I was in middle school. Exchange has been a part of my life for over 20 years. I did some research and found Aspect! The goals aligned with my personal values and everyone was incredibly supportive from day one.

– Jennifer, Coordinator in Oregon

In 2015 I found myself an empty nester who was leaving a really good job to become a full-time mom to my infant grandson. I was looking for something to keep me active with people in my community. I was contacted by a friend who suggested I look at supervising exchange students. I contacted Aspect and my first year I was able to place five students and develop a bond with some amazing young people. Although I found that it was not quite as easy as I expected to find families and place the students, I fell in love with the program, the students and my fellow coordinators.

-Adele, Coordinator in Utah

Originally I started out as a host mom.  A very busy/active/energetic host mom!  Through hosting I was able to introduce our first student, Teresa, to many different cultural experiences in the area such as a Native American pow wow, theater shows, fundraising events, etc. Originally Teresa put the idea in my head that I should be a coordinator because of all of the experiences she had. Of course, I held off on pursuing it for several months thinking that I really didn’t need to add to my plate. My family’s relationship with Teresa continued to grow and I enjoyed every moment I was able to spend with her and learn more about all of the students in our group that year. Sometime during the second semester, I signed up and made my first placement: Kasper from Norway (the only student to ever request to be placed in Nebraska)!

– Shannon, Coordinator in Nebraska

I was interested in this position for a few reasons. I really enjoy working with youth, I have always been interested in other cultures and countries and I wanted a way that could allow me to afford travel. This really embraced all those desires.

– Kristine, Coordinator in Washington

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How do you balance work/family/Aspect life? 

In addition to the work I do as a coordinator I am also a business manager for the Church/School that my 9-year-old daughter attends, I’m a Girl Scout leader, Awana leader, and an avid volunteer throughout the community. My most important job is being a wife & mother. The thing about my work with Aspect is that it can be as big or small as works best for me. I place the number of students I want to work with. I plan the number of events I want the students to participate in. All of my work is fairly flexible so it seems to balance relatively well.

-Shannon, Coordinator in Nebraska

The way I work is mostly through Facebook, email, messaging and then my monthly phone call check-ins. Since most of this isn’t done in person, I have time I can work on my Aspect job. I will do posting for host families as I am sitting watching tv, waiting for kids, on my breaks at work, etc. I am able to schedule around my busy schedule for home interviews, host family meetings and our activities. I have a supportive and understanding family. I have a Facebook group and email communication group for my host families and exchange students so that I can keep organized on our upcoming activities etc. My kids love the exchange students so they love coming with me to activities when it’s possible. We also have hosted the last few years and it has been a great experience.

-Kristine, Coordinator in Washington

In addition to coordinating I also juggle my other job in HR, five children, and our 6-acre homestead in Oregon. I have very strict rules with myself about when and where I’m allowed to work and I am vigilant about time with my family and time for me. I try to maintain ‘date nights’ with my kids so they get some one on one time and we have a very strict dinner rule. We also get a lot of time together on the farm so that helps. I make sure that I make time for my family because they are the thing that matters the most.

-Jennifer, Coordinator in Oregon

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With five kids of my own, the student we host every year, and a second full-time job, life gets very interesting at times!  But I love BOTH of my jobs, so it never feels like I’m working!  My full-time job is also…you guessed it… working with kids!  I’m a school bus driver for all ages! So, when you do what you love, and you have passion about it, you’re never working… you’re living your best life, surrounded by people that love you!

-Glenda, Coordinator in Texas

Since I began placing students with Aspect, I ran for Mayor of my city. I find that sometimes it is a challenge to be Mayor, Mom of 12 children and a coordinator. I mostly try to find balance between work for the city and work for Aspect by devoting a portion of my day to each. I also find that most of the time student issues can easily be resolved by one on one conversations or a listening ear for a few minutes. I also try to balance my load by involving my family in my student activities. My husband and son love to interact with my students and have made close bonds as they associate with one another. My older married kids love my students as well which makes my position as a coordinator one that I truly enjoy.

-Adele, Coordinator in Utah 

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What keeps bringing you back?

I love this work! I love the kids, I keep in touch with most of them, I love to see how their life back home goes after they get back. I enjoy being able to mentor them and help them while they are here. I am beyond blessed to build relationships with these kids during a very amazing and sometimes challenging time in their lives. I hope that in some small way I am making a difference in their life and in the world by opening the eyes of these awesome kids and the youth in the US that they get to see beyond just their community and learn about the world. Building amazing relationships that go way beyond their 10-month stay here in the US, but for life! Building strong ties between Americans and so many countries in the world!

I also love to be able to travel and this makes that dream come true for me!

– Kristine, Coordinator in Washington

My relationships with my students and my host families are what keep me coming back. I receive notes from former students and their parents and keep up on the things that are happening in their lives. On one occasion I was going through some significant health issues. I had received some concerning news and was feeling on edge and uncertain about my future and if I would be able to continue my position as a coordinator. During that week I received phone calls, emails and facebook messages from every single student I had ever placed. It was an amazing week and it was so random as I had never discussed my worries or condition with anyone and yet there I was, receiving an outpouring of love from far across the world for absolutely no reason at all. It was amazing. I knew then that our hearts were still connected. Each year as I look at sending students back to their home countries I try to look forward to the new students and families I will be working with. I feel lucky to always have some of the very best students in my group. I often think of the lives that have touched mine through this program. The friends I have made from getting to know my host families and the students that I have hosted, Pauline, Alex, Sarah and Abdul, who have now become like my own children, are my world. I could not imagine my life without them. These relationships have made me who I am and seem to have a definitive place in my life. For me, all the riches in the world mean nothing. It is the love that we share, the beauty of interacting with one another and the knowledge and understanding we gain by uniting families and cultures that is the most priceless gift of all.

-Adele, Coordinator in Utah 

The students! I enjoy every moment I get to share & learn from them. I get to be their support, their advocate, and their friend. My community benefits by sharing in multi-cultural experiences. My area schools benefits by capitalizing on teaching moments about other countries & cultures around the globe. My family benefits by growing our family tree internationally. My daughter has formed connections with many of the students I have worked with and when we host it provides her with a sibling that she will be connected to forever. Whenever she talks about her family or does a family tree project she always has her sisters, Teresa & Gloria from Italy and her brother Quentin from Belgium. It’s been very rewarding.

-Shannon, Coordinator in Nebraska 

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The same thing that drew me in, the kids. I love my interactions with my students and I can’t imagine my life without exchange. The incentives sure don’t hurt anything but it really does boil down to sharing the world with other people. My 9 year old loves morrocan food, my 10 year old begs for curry and pad thai, and my 19 year old loves food in general. I want everyone to know what other cultures are like so we can find commonality and love. It’s hard to hate an entire religion, country, or race when someone you love is part of that. I really believe that exchange can make a global impact in more ways than many people realize.

– Jennifer, Coordinator in Oregon

I love hearing from my students that I was a major part in their dreams coming true! And that i was always there to help guide them! There truly is nothing better!! It’s what keeps me coming back year after year!!

– Glenda, Coordinator in Texas


Do you enjoy working with youth and your community? Why not apply to become an Aspect International Coordinator today? Click on the image below to learn more:

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