Hello! My name is Emily and I am a Global Buddy with World Link. When I was in the seventh grade, we hosted a Ukrainian student with World Link. This was my first experience with an exchange student and from that point on, I have been involved with the program. I was the first Global Buddy in Colorado.
Being a buddy means a lot of things. For me, it has meant good times, cultural sharing, and endless opportunities. After hosting our foreign exchange student, I developed a love for learning about other cultures. When I became involved in World Link, I realized that I was constantly surrounded by different cultures. I began going with the students to monthly activities and befriending them on Facebook. Before too long, I was a committed part of the World Link program. I visited the students during monthly activities and mandatory meetings to offer American insight.
Since being introduced to the exchange student realm, my life has drastically changed. I have embraced many new cultures and learned a lot more about the world around me. Now, when I am in classes, I am able to participate and give insight on global topics and issues. A lot of the people at my High School have never heard of some of the countries I have had opportunities of learning so much about.
Every year the new students seem to surprise me. For the past three years, I have fallen in love with every group of students. You never get the same story twice. I have met many people from some of the same countries and some very different countries but I have yet to hear two similar stories. Every student comes from a different walk of life with different experiences in his/her home country. They all come here with an open mind and their own stories. When they sit down to tell these stories or tell you about their country, they are so passionate about what they are talking about and it makes it so much more interesting. For example, one student from Egypt told me that she’s never even been to the pyramids. Another student, from Kazakhstan, introduced me to what Kazakhstan is. Before meeting these students, I didn’t even know a lot of the countries they were coming from. I have learned so much through this program but it has been a blast.
When you think of sitting in a Social Studies classroom, for most people, it gets boring. Looking at a map and reading about the culture from a text book is generic and boring but when these students get here, they give you real life facts. They give insight and stories and share their culture in new and exciting ways. They have fun with it and it makes it fun for the American Students.
Being a Global Buddy has meant everlasting friendships around the globe. Everyone has seen the picture of the world with people from different cultures holding hands around it, I have lived it. When these students come together, all differences are put aside and we get to focus on each other. We all get to make new and exciting memories. Some are funny and some are heartfelt but that’s the best part; I never know what to expect but I am never disappointed.
Meeting and being with these students has changed my life. Before being introduced to the World Link program, I didn’t even know that you could host a student from another country. After seeing the impact they have on me though, I realized how much I want something like that. These students get an opportunity to come to the U.S. for free and share their culture and live in an American home. When I saw this, I thought to myself, I want to do that! In the three years since I became involved in the program, I have meet new people, made memories, gained two new sisters, and so much more but most of all, I have propelled myself forward. I have been able to open doors for myself. Because I have been an active Global Buddy, I am applying to become an exchange student myself. Because I was introduced to so many new countries and cultures, I am taking an AP class about culture as a sophomore (even though my school usually doesn’t offer Advanced Placement courses to sophomores). Through this program I have been able to put myself one step ahead of everyone else because I have been able to experience so many things. I have volunteered over 140 hours in a matter of about one year and a few months. I believe that being a Global Buddy has put me ahead of my peers that are not a Global Buddy.
Overall, this program has offered me many beneficial opportunities, memories and a new passion to discover. I recommend it to anyone considering it, you will not regret it.