21 Ways to Make the Most of Your Cultural Exchange Experience
The beginning of a new year can often be an ideal moment for reflecting on life, setting goals, and finding renewed purpose. For many of our ambassador teachers, participating in our program has long-lasting benefits, both personally and professionally. Have you considered how the experience of teaching in the United States with Participate Learning may impact your life? Read through 21 ways you might benefit from your time teaching in the United States and make the most of your experience. Then, consider setting new goals for yourself for the new year!
- Develop an open mind. At the beginning of a cultural exchange experience, approach new situations with curiosity. Ask lots of questions and consider the way culture may shape your interactions. Most important, don’t shy away from new experiences with people who may think differently from you; it will help you develop empathy and cross-cultural skills.
- Become more independent. Moving to a new country to teach is a big step for your independence and will help you grow self-confidence and a sense of accomplishment.
- Appreciate new perspectives and ways of living. You will learn so much from your new colleagues and neighbors, from what they do on the weekends to what motivates them in their work. Walk in their shoes and alongside them on this journey as much as you can.
- Meet people from all over the world. Did you know that ambassador teachers with Participate Learning come from 29 countries? Who will you meet during your teaching experience?
- Travel within the United States. Whether you use long holiday weekends or summer breaks, set travel goals for yourself during your stay so you can explore new places. Read fresh travel ideas from two ambassador alumni here.
- Improve your English language skills. If English is your second (or third!) language, living and working in the United States will help you master the nuances of advanced fluency.
- Learn new teaching methods. Starting with your orientation sessions, you will learn new strategies for your teaching subject area and classroom management that will help you succeed in your new classroom.
- Strengthen your teaching practice with new challenges. Challenges in the classroom exist not to bring you down, but to make you a stronger educator. Take each day in stride and know that the bigger the challenge, the bigger opportunity there is for growth!
- Deepen your understanding of the U.S. education system. As you spend several years teaching in the United States, you will learn so much from your new coworkers about the rigors of the U.S. education system and how it may vary from the systems you are accustomed to. Don’t forget to share your fresh perspectives and insights with your colleagues as well so they benefit from the experience you bring with you.
- Earn a master’s degree. Did you know that Participate Learning has partnerships with three universities in the area to help you achieve your higher education dreams? While it can be challenging to juggle your work as a teacher and seeking an advanced degree, many of our ambassadors accomplish this during the second through fourth years of participation.
- Help students broaden their global perspectives. Your students are everything to you, and as their teacher, you are in the unique position to teach them about the world beyond their classroom.
- Be a cultural ambassador for your home country. You may be the first person your school community has met from your home country! Use your cultural exchange as an opportunity to be a cultural ambassador and share your expertise with those around you.
- Introduce your students to their peers in your home country. Using virtual exchange opportunities, you can introduce students to peers their age from your home country to create meaningful learning opportunities that connect what you are learning about to the real world.
- Make international connections for your students and school. In everyday lessons you have the opportunity to connect students with the greater world around them. Teaching the Sustainable Development Goals is a fantastic way to show students the impact they can have on the world and the importance of being an active participant in it.
- Get involved in your community. As the saying goes, when in Rome, do as the Romans do. Your time teaching in the United States is made more meaningful if you find ways to get involved in your community and create a life here. Get involved right from the beginning, whether through volunteering, extracurricular activities, or local organizations.
- Create new opportunities for your family. If you are bringing family members with you, consider the impact a few years in a new country will have on their growth and development, too.
- Make long-lasting friendships. The people you meet while teaching in the United States share this experience with you and can be friends for life. Join groups in your community, attend events, and open your mind to new friendships while you’re here.
- Join a network of international educators numbering in the thousands. Ambassadors who complete the program are automatically members of our growing alumni ambassador community. Our alumni live all over the world and are a great resource for how to transition back to living in one’s home country since they’ve done it before.
- Bring your new expertise back to your home country. Share your newfound knowledge and experience with other educators in your home country to support their growth. Some teachers find that when they return home, there are more opportunities for advancement and leadership available to them because of their experience teaching internationally and in the United States. Don’t let the learning and sharing stop when you return home!
- Nurture global citizens. Your students will soak up each day in your international classroom and carry that learning with them. Foster their development by following the global citizenship framework and by delivering lessons with a global perspective as much as possible.
- Unite our world through global learning. When you partner with us for cultural exchange, you play a meaningful role in cultivating global citizens who create a more peaceful world. The connections you make in your classroom and community make a lasting impact.
Share with us on Twitter @ParticipateLrng how you or your students have benefited from your cultural exchange experience so far. For more information on how to become an ambassador of your culture and change students’ lives for the better, check out our web page.