How do I break the ice with my student?
- Learn about your student’s home country. Be prepared to answer questions about the United States.
- Introduce your student to Waverly and/or the Cedar Valley and help them see what a special place this is. For example, you can take them to a museum, a sporting event or a movie, or simply ask them to dinner.
- Learn how to pronounce the student’s name correctly, and ask them to help you learn how. Some students may offer a “Western” name as an alternative, and that is fine, but you should at least familiarize yourself with their real name so you can recognize it when spoken.
- Mark your student’s birthday on your calendar and send them a note on their special day. You may also mark a couple of their country’s special holidays (i.e. Lunar New Year).
- Keep in mind that English may not be their first language, and be aware that if you use a slang word or an idiom, they may not understand you completely.
Keep in mind when inviting a student to your home:
- Your student may have dietary restrictions related to personal preference, culture, or religion. Ask about those before they come to your home to eat a meal. For example, they may not eat pork or any meat at all.
- Students may have different time schedules than your family. Your student’s culture may place more or less value on being “on time.” Generational differences can also affect habits related to planning ahead or scheduling late-night/early-morning get-togethers, and personal differences may affect how much time you think is required to get to know one another. Be honest about your expectations with each other.
- Many cultures are not accustomed to keeping pets inside the home. Let the student know about your indoor pet before they come to your home. Also, introduce the pet slowly, as the student may be uncomfortable with animals.
- Most students do not have a car, so you should expect to provide transportation. You may also want to give them an end time to your meeting, so they can make arrangements.
- Smoking is much more common in other countries, and you may need to let your student know that you do not permit smoking at your home.
- Alcohol use will vary greatly from culture to culture, student to student, and family to family. This may require a conversation depending on your family’s habits and the student’s expectations.
Offer advice about life in America
- You are the “elder” in this relationship, and they are very young. You may need to be an active teacher in addition to being a friend.
- Your student will need to buy many things while in Waverly. You can offer advice on places to shop, inexpensive options for winter clothes (like Trinkets & Togs or Neighborhood Closet), or yard sales (a concept students may not be familiar with). You might also discourage them from buying too much, reminding them that it all must be stored and moved at the end of the school year.
- Your student will most likely not know much about the American system. Feel free to openly discuss things one needs to know, do or not do to get on well in America. For example, many students will not want to get a credit card, not understanding the long-term result of having no credit history, or that certain purchases require a credit card.
- Your student will not know about what activities are fun to do in Waverly and the Cedar Valley. You can give advice on what to do during breaks or what might be good gifts for their families back home.