What a day!!
On Saturday, May 21, 2022, we held a combined pre-departure orientation (PDO) at the Hermosa Beach home of Dave Schrader, our Orientations Coordinator, for both our currently 6 hosted students AND for our 6 outbound students from the Greater Los Angeles area. What a wonderful and exciting cultural experience it was. I conducted the orientation for the hosted students while Natalie conducted the orientation for the outbound students.
Our currently hosted students are Yura (Ukraine), Saji (Palestine), Federica (Italy), and Aditi (India). All the hosted students have been in our Greater Los Angeles area for nearly 10 months and were very well adjusted.
We had a conversation about the ways their time in America has shaped them. All were surprised by the freedom awarded to teenagers here and feel that they’ve become more independent after their stay. They also reported that they’ve become much more accepting of other people, particularly those in the LGBT community.
With the exception of Yura, who will be remaining here in the Los Angeles area because of the war in Ukraine, all were sad to leave.
Finally, I asked them about what their goals were when they arrived, what they had achieved, and what they still hoped to accomplish in their final weeks. All were very optimistic about their accomplishments, they reported that they succeeded in their two primary goals: Improve their English and Make a group of friends. In their final months, they told me they hoped to express their gratitude to their host families and collect souvenirs for their friends back home.
After my orientation for the hosted students, we reconvened with the outbound students for the remainder of the day. The outbound students got to practice their introductions on the inbound students. After a chaotic activity where students were forced to line up from youngest to oldest using only gestures, we had lunch. Then came the funniest part of the evening, when the outbound students were interrogated by us volunteers and inbound students to see how they would handle being asked aggressive questions in their host countries. Luckily all 6 outbound kids handled it like champs and made it to the beach party unscathed. Our evening concluded with a beach party full of laughter and fun that brought together volunteers, host families, students, and alumni. A satisfying ending for our students set to return to their home countries and a new beginning for our students preparing to depart