The Impact of Social Media on Hosting Foreign Exchange Students

Our family is excitedly preparing for the arrival of our yearlong foreign exchange student and oh how the times have changed!

When we decided to host an exchange student, we thought it would be a way to help our children to become global thinkers as well as learn to be more understanding and accepting of a different individual’s culture. We also thought if we can’t bring our children to the world right now then at least we can bring the world to them.

Now as was the case back when I was in high school, and my family hosted an exchange student the student will need time to get over the culture shock of living in a foreign country and adjusting to living with a host family. But what has certainly changed is the availability of technology to help with this transition.

Things Have Changed

Fast forward to today and technology has also changed the way students and host families communicate with one another. When we first received an emailed letter telling us that we were going to be hosting a student from Moldova our daughter went straight to her social media accounts and looked up the student and it was a matter of seconds before she could communicate with our future student.

Social media such as Facetime, Skype, Texting, Instagram, Snapchat, and Facebook has given us a head start in getting to know and welcoming our student. From the exchange student perspective, those long ago once-a-week, expensive international calls home and letters every few weeks are all gone.

Clearly, the world is a lot smaller with the advent of technology, and while some might complain that all this technology has diminished the exchange experience I highly doubt it will diminish the excitement of learning about another person’s culture while also showing them ours.

I also know there are a few things that technology hasn’t changed yet — jet lag and teenage angst.




Phillip Potenziano

About Phillip Potenziano

In addition to blogging, Dr. Potenziano works as an Assistant Superintendent, and volunteers on the board of a southern Maine local non-profit. He is happily nestled just north of Portland, with his 3 kids, a wife and lots of projects awaiting his attention. He loves early morning runs, donuts and sometimes coffee. Two lessons he tries to remember are: "Every man is my superior in that I may learn from him" and "At the moment of commitment, the entire universe conspires to assure your success."