Giving, sharing and a lot of trust
Youth exchanges make for great memories… and great stories!
We have two stories to share with you. Our first story comes from Germany. Let’s hear from Rita Windpassinger (DE6174) first and further down you can read about the Iceland/France adventure from Osk Vilhjalmsdottir (IS130). If you want to read Rita’s testimonial in German, go here.
Six youth exchanges!
In the course of the last ten years, we implemented a total of six self-organized youth exchanges with our exchange partners or their family members in the US. Sometimes without a return visit, sometimes with simultaneous or non-simultaneous return visit of an American guest pupil. My niece got the chance to attend high school in Utah and an American girl accompanied our son at his high school.
All exchanges took place between three and five weeks. All the gathered experience was exclusively positive and the children did not only improve their language skills, but also their intercultural abilities. Only a couple of days ago the host mom of our medium son from Seattle visited our son and the two got the chance to further intensify their connection anew. What a great experience. Individually adjustable, no isolation with further non-native speakers and on top of it an enormous saving of expenses. Basically, there were only flight costs and a small portion of pocket money. We can only warmly recommend this form of exchange for kids.
Youth exchange between Iceland and France
After several pleasant Intervac home exchanges, I once again found myself leaving through the website. A new option captured my attention, youth exchange. How interesting and how brave. To send your child into the hands of somebody you never have met. I found it absurd but when I thought about all our wonderful experiences with hosts and guests I felt safe.
At that time our 14 years old son really needed a break from toxic friendships and computer games. I felt he needed to experience something completely different and had been searching for courses and workshops abroad.
I found many interesting options but so expensive that I couldn’t even dream of it. Intervac youth exchange, on the other hand, costs only travel expenses, the rest is giving, sharing and a lot of trust and responsibility. We had the pleasure of hosting a French boy same age as Villi, our son. Hector stayed with us for 2 weeks and we did our best to make his stay as enjoyable as possible. We traveled into the Icelandic highlands, visited geysers and rhyolite mountains and took a bath in a warm hot-spring in the nature reserve Landmannalaugar.
Hector made our son show a new side of himself. Villi turned into a great host and did his best to please his guest. The boys have quite different backgrounds but many things to learn from each other. Our guest accompanied our son for an art course in the art school. Among other things, they painted a wall in public space. Hector experienced something absolutely new, something his family never practiced. And our young guest brought fresh fragrance into our house, reading books and playing the piano like an angel. Something our son already had given up on but this made him rethink and redefine himself.
After two weeks in Iceland, the two boys traveled together to Marseille in France where new and completely different adventure was waiting for them. This was a summer the two boys will never forget.