We must offer an apology to our readers. It’s been about a month since our last post! I think that’s the longest we’ve gone for several years without posting something.
In our defense, we have been incredibly busy on issues connected to our lives as coordinators working in international exchange — and that doesn’t include work we have to do in our “regular” jobs as an environmental lawyer and consultant.
What have we been up to? Well, to list a few things …
- Our last post in mid-February, Hiding in Plain Sight: The Real Need for Cultural Exchange, took more thought and time than many blog posts. Most of our blog posts are written by one of us, with some input from and editing by the other. However, this post covered issues we have thought about for a long time. We first drafted that blog post late last year — about four months ago or more. Every time one of us came back to it, it provoked more thoughts and additional changes. It was difficult, in a way, to come back to “ordinary” blog posts after that!
- During February, we finished publication of our e-book. This was an exciting endeavor for us. We went through all our blog posts over the past four years, updated and modified them, organized them into categories so that they could be real tools for parents, host families, and students. It’s been an interesting experience, but a lot more challenging than we anticipated. We thought, “how difficult could it be to publish your own book?” Naiveté affects even seasoned professionals! We’ve learned some of the ins and outs of self-publishing. We took it pretty seriously, wanting to understand the process. We may, after all, have more books to write!
- In late January, we had six new students arrive for the second semester from Austria, Germany, and Italy. Helping them get settled into their host families and communities has had its ups and downs, and has taken up some of our time. For the students and their host families, it’s just like the beginning of the academic year when students don’t know what to expect from life in the U.S. (or have serious misconceptions about what their life as an American teen will be like). They’ve had issues ranging from thinking their host family’s home is unreasonably dirty (because it’s different from back home), to difficulties with English that are amplified because we’re halfway through the school year, to cultural differences in communication that lead to overly direct, blunt statements that come across as rude and hurtful. We have had second semester students do well from the start in the past, but we’re still thinking through how to replicate that. We’re not sure what the recipe is for success.
- Finally, over the past month or so we have been working on a completely new section to The Climatographers website — our “regular job” — that we think reflects entirely new ways to advance communication on climate change. That may not be related to our work with teenagers from around the world, but it’s highly related to what has kept us busy.
We have more ideas in our head that we want to communicate about exchange and international education. Stay with us as we move forward into Spring!