[BHS Etree] MISC: 6 More Host Families Needed, Nov. 3-10

BHS etree bhs at lists.lmi.net
Tue Oct 30 15:00:48 PDT 2012

PLEASE do not reply to this email, contact` Kate Trimlett trimlett at gmail.com

Berkeley High Hosts a Global Exchange Promoting Green Schools and Green Communities

6 More Host Families Needed 

When we welcome people from another country into our school and homes, we make friends, increase mutual understanding, broaden our own horizons, and create opportunities to work together for a better future.  In this spirit, our school is pleased to announce our participation in Leading Green: Shaping Sustainable Schools and Communities, an international exchange that will bring high school students and educators from countries of Southeast Asia to the United States to learn about environmental sustainability and develop as well as practice leadership skills as they make friends with diverse Americans.

Leading Green is a Youth Leadership Program designed and implemented by the East-West Center (EWC), a nonprofit institution headquartered in Honolulu, Hawaii.  The EWC was established by the US Congress in 1960 to better relations and promote understanding among the peoples of the United States, Asia, and the Pacific through cooperative study, research, and dialogue.  Leading Green is funded through a grant by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

The first group of exchange participants will be in the United States during October 28 – November 19, 2012 and will include 25 high school students (ages 15-17) and six educators from Brunei, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.  All participants speak English and have been selected by U.S. Embassies in the participating countries.

Exchange Itinerary and US School Partners

Participants will begin their exchange by taking part in workshops, seminars, and hands-on projects at the EWC headquarters to develop leadership and civic skills and explore global environmental issues.  Afterwards, they will travel to California, where three schools in the San Francisco Bay Area (Berkeley High School, Head-Royce School, and Castilleja School) will each host 10 exchange participants for one week.  The group will then travel to Washington, DC, where they will behosted by three DC-area schools (Maret School, St. Stephen’s & St. Agnes School, and Potomac School) that are, like the Bay Area schools, leaders among US schools in fostering a school culture that promotes environmental stewardship and sustainability. 

The goals of the US school visits are for the exchange participants to observe and learn from their host schools’ green best practices, while also engaging in cross-cultural dialogue and exchange, and to leverage their new learning to create green action plans, which they will implement in their own schools back home.  More broadly, the exchange aims to develop participants’ interest and skills to help them become better citizens and advocates who are committed to engendering positive change in their communities and globally.

Inviting Berkeley HS Families to Host Exchange Participants

Host families are vital part of this international exchange.  Therefore, we are inviting families of our Green Academy students to consider opening their homes to exchange participants for one week, starting Saturday, November 3, 2012.  With your family, you will provide a supportive environment for them to experience the daily life of an American family, sharing your routine, customs, foods, and perspectives, while your guest shares theirs.

In return, the exchange extends opportunities for our school community to learn about the fascinating region of Southeast Asia, its incredible diversity, and dynamic cultures; and to explore real-world issues affecting the region in ways that are direct and personal.  The exchange also enables our students, teachers, and families to develop connections and friendships with their counterparts in Southeast Asia that can become long-term and sustained.  Moreover, the EWC can help Berkeley High leverage these ties into future exchanges and service learning opportunities for our students and teachers.

What is Expected of a Host Family?

Hosting international exchange participants can be a rewarding experience for the host family, but interested families should be prepared to meet the following expectations:

• Establish contact via email with their guests before their arrival.

• Provide a safe and welcoming environment for their guest(s) and make them feel like a part of the family by including them in family activities, while also establishing clear rules and expectations about household routines, including meal times, bedtimes, TV watching, phone and computer usage if applicable, inviting friends, and contacting the exchange coordinator if problems arise.

• Provide room and board.  Whether hosting one or two student(s), if the student(s) must share a room, it should be with a child/children of the same gender and similar age.  It is not advisable to place adults in homes where they must share rooms.

• Transport participants to and from school on school days.

• And, whenever possible, encourage involvement in community life by introducing them to friends, neighbors, and community groups.

Since participants will come from countries and communities in Southeast Asia that are diverse culturally, religiously, ethnically, and linguistically, below are some guidelines prepared by the EWC so that hosts and participants can feel at ease with one another.  Final participant selections will be made in early October, and the EWC will provide host families with information on their individual guests as well as their countries, communities, and schools.

Guidelines for Exchange Hosts

Hosting a student or teacher from another country is an exciting journey into new cultural norms and mindsets.  Hosts want their guests to feel at home and comfortable, and guests likewise strive to be polite and accommodating.  The EWC has compiled the following guidelines that deal with cultural issues and sensitivities that families should be aware when hosting participants from Southeast Asia in order to facilitate a pleasant exchange experience for everyone.  The EWC staff will also be available throughout the exchange to assist in cross-cultural communication or other matters.


When Meeting Exchange Participants

• Since naming patterns vary in different countries, ask what you should call your visitor, and state what he or she should call you.  Clarify which is your surname and which is your given name.

• Repeat the person’s name, and ask if your pronunciation is correct.

• Handshakes are common, but not universal.  For some Muslims it is not acceptable for unrelated men and women to shake hands.  If you extend a hand and your guest does not reciprocate, it merely indicates a different cultural tradition or religious observance.


• In many Southeast Asian cultures, people value a placid countenance.  Open displays of frustration or anger should be avoided.  A gentle approach is the best way to communicate on matters of importance or delicacy.  Subtle cues and face-saving gestures can help broach sensitive topics.

• Periods of silence in conversation are often welcome and allow people to collect their thoughts.

• Some cultures may view the left hand as “unclean.”  They will use their right hand for introductions, eating, exchanging gifts, and gesturing towards objects.  It is best to reciprocate as much as possible.

• When gesturing towards something, it is best to use the open palm of your hand.

• Also, avoid showing the soles of the feet or shoes or pointing these at people (when crossing your legs, for example), since these are considered unclean in some cultures.

Giving and Receiving Gifts and Compliments

• Gifts should be given and accepted using both hands, palms facing upwards. 

• Gifts are generally not opened in front of the giver to avoid embarrassment if it turns out to be a poor choice.

• Knives or scissors make inappropriate presents since they imply the severing of bonds. 

• Wrap gifts in a color other than white, since this is the color of mourning.

• Compliments are often met with a polite and modest denial or negation, as some cultures view accepting a compliment directly as unseemly or proud.

Welcoming Muslim Guests from Southeast Asia

• Muslims across the world, including Southeast Asia, practice their faith according to different requirements.  However, in general, Muslims avoid dogs, alcohol, and pork as well as shellfish, and these should be avoided while you host your guest.

• Muslims pray five times a day and prayer can take from five to twenty minutes; however, schedules, especially when traveling, are usually flexible.  A prayer timetable for each host community will be provided by the EWC.  If you can provide a private or even semi-private area where your guest can pray (with a separate room/area for females and males) it will make things much easier for them.

• Before praying, a Muslim must perform a ritual washing, for which a normal washroom suffices.  The standards for purity of the surroundings are usually met if the venue is clean.  Problems can arise if dogs are present since their saliva is considered unclean and, if it touches a Muslim’s person, they are required to wash themselves or their garment.  Therefore, dogs should be kept away from your guests.

• Prohibitions regarding alcohol include personal consumption, but Muslims also are not supposed to sit at a table where others are consuming it.  However, many will understand if such situations are not avoidable.

• Muslims are not allowed to eat pork or any form of pig meat including lard, bacon, ham, and sausages.  Other meats must be 'halal' and slaughtered according to Muslim custom.  Kosher meat is permissible since it follows the same guidelines.  If halal or kosher meat is difficult to obtain, vegetarian dishes, dairy, as well as fish is fine.  (Please note, some cheeses contain hidden pork ingredients, such as rennet or pepsin.  Cheeses that contain microbial enzyme are fine.) 

If you are interested in hosting a student or teacher please contact Namji Steinemann   steinemn at eastwestcenter.org

Thank you for your time and consideration


Kate Trimlett
Science Teacher
Green Academy
Berkeley High School


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