SYRACUSE — International Cultural Exchange Services welcomes Sheila McGee as a new local coordinator.
“I have lived at Dewart Lake since graduating from high school in 1989. I am engaged to a wonderful man, Donald Claassen, and we are planning a small ceremony with a few friends and family attending on Dec. 30, 2018, on Lido Beach in Sarasota Fla. I have twin girls who are 26, a son who is 14 who will soon be a freshman in high school and I am a grandma of three. I love lake activities, running and going to the gym,” said McGee.
“I always have been intrigued by exchange students when I was in high school, and my parents would never consider hosting one. When I was 25 (minimum age to host), I was determined to host a student. I had a great experience with a girl from Austria, and it’s just expanded from there, I knew I wanted to be more involved in these awesome kids’ lives while they are here, becoming a local rep for another organization for about 12 years before recently coming on board with ICES. I just think it is amazing that these young students want to come to America and learn better English and see what this life is all about that they see on TV and in the movies,” McGee stated. “It makes me laugh when the student does something or sees something and says the phrase “just like in the movies.” A few years ago I placed a student who did a lot of those things, like he insisted he was the one to take the weekly garbage out to the end of the driveway because he’s always wanted to do that “just like they do in the movies.” He did a lot of those type of things, and had his host family take picture and video of him doing that. It’s really amazing that the parents of these young students allow and encourage them to come to America and live with strangers who quickly become family, for five or 10 months. Sending them here and trusting strangers enough to take good care of these young adults and help them through life’s challenges while they are here really shows how much they love and trust their children. The students understand their parents’ expectations and know they need this fluent English to achieve their future endeavors.”
McGee is excited for this new opportunity to work with international high school students and the local families who host them. She feels that having exchange students in our local schools and communities increases mutual understanding and improves relationships between countries. McGee will be working with families and schools in Syracuse and the surrounding area.
McGee is currently looking for families who would like to host for the 2018 school year. Exchange students live as a member of the host family—not a guest or boarder. They participate in family activities, follow host family rules and help with chores. Students have their own medical insurance and spending money to cover all personal expenses. Host families provide room and board and loving parental guidance to the student. As the local coordinator, McGee is available to answer questions, give advice and provide general support to students and host families throughout the experience. For more information about hosting or working with ICES, please contact McGee.