The Experience of a Lifetime

by Gina McCormick

As parents we want so much for our children to learn everything possible about our world. We want them to see things they might not notice on their own. As home schoolers we are doubly concerned with their education, not only as “book learning” but as cultural and spiritual training as well. As a longtime home schooler and mother of eight, I see the value of an education that includes an expanded view of the world, but I also realize that limited budgets make that difficult. Some years back our family became involved in a foreign exchange program offered by 4-H. We hosted at least five students and four chaperones, and two of our children traveled to Japan for homestays. To this day, we have a tremendous love for the Japanese people and for other cultures.

Years have gone by, but our family continues to keep in touch with our friends in Japan and with the Texas families we met during that time. The Texas Global Education and Cultural Exchange program (TGE) offers both inbound and outbound opportunities for Texas families in a unique way. While other programs may coordinate hosting opportunities, TGE includes educational opportunities for families to learn about the country of their delegate and to meet other host families within the state. Many of our families host year after year and send their children on exchanges to stay with families in Japan, Costa Rica, or Greece. Strong bonds are formed between hosts and their newly ‘adopted’ family members. Lives are changed forever.

Here is the experience of the Fauber family:

“When the Fauber family accepted the offer to host Daiki Matsumoto from Tokyo for one month in 2007, they had no idea what a journey of learning and discovery they were embarking upon!

They heard about the Texas Global Education and Cultural Exchange (TGE) program through their local home school support group and thought that it would be a good opportunity to introduce their three children–Daniel, Ruth, and David–to Japanese culture. What started out as Daniel hosting an exchange student turned out to be a learning opportunity for the entire family! The next year Ruth wanted to participate, and they all met Satomi Osafune from Okayama, Japan. This prompted the purchase of the Rosetta Stone software to aid in learning the Japanese language, in addition to the Spanish the children were already studying. All three children now read and write Japanese hiragana and katakana script, as well as speak the language on a basic level.  Each successive summer brought another Japanese student or chaperone, with continued learning and friendship.

In 2011 Daniel expressed an interest in participating in the homestay program to Japan, and his dad (Dan) saw an opportunity to join in as chaperone for the group from Texas. They knew what to expect from their hosting experiences–total immersion in the language and culture, with little contact back home or with fellow English-speaking friends, new foods, new sights, and lots of learning! If the 12-year-old Japanese students who understood little English could do this, so could they! Dan stayed with Daiki Matsumoto’s family in Tokyo–it was good to see Daiki again after hosting him back in Texas four years earlier. Daniel went to Kagoshima, which was 600 miles further south, and father and son didn’t see each other until it was time to return home! Mom wasn’t concerned about this distance because she knew, from their experiences in Texas, how thoroughly TGE vetted both students and hosts experiences. It also helped that Japan was one of the safest places in the world to travel!

The trip was a great success–all the students had a great time, learned about perspective from across the ocean, and made more lifelong friends. Dan was so impressed with the experience that he now volunteers for TGE to coordinate overseas exchanges with Costa Rica and Greece, as well as Japan. And so the learning continues.”

If you would like to learn more about opportunities like this, contact TGE atwww.texasglobaleducation.org. You can also follow us on Twitter: @tgegina.