Apart from the advantages to parents of their child returning with added maturity, a more concerted approach to their studies, increased language fluency, a better understanding of human nature, the experience of having to make new friends (and coming to a realisation of what friendship is and how to value it), parents will find that sometimes the cost of educating their child overseas for one year is equal to or less than the cost in Australia.
The benefits of long-term student exchange programs are well recognised by tertiary institutions and work places in Australia. Our students return with a better idea of where they are heading socially, academically, and professionally, and streets ahead in terms of emotional intelligence.
Students and their Australian families love the idea of having an extended family to visit and to welcome into their homes in Australia. The host family is the most lasting contact made while on exchange, and the life long contacts set up during this stage of your child’s life will prove invaluable as they launch themselves into their career.
Although we know that parents will dearly miss their child, the homecoming and the awakening knowledge that your child has matured to the point where they can become your friend, as well as your child, is welcomed by all.
In 1993 Professor Gavin Andrews, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of NSW, undertook a study of 500 Australian adolescents who went overseas on exchange and said:
“Most of them went to foreign speaking countries so they were away from their families and operating in a foreign language and they were having to cope and we know it was stressful. For most of them very enjoyable – a great challenge. We compared them with their peers who were carefully matched on the sorts of things we are talking about – personality and maturity – but who stayed at home. And the exchange students went away 17, came back 18, but were actually 27 year olds inside their heads. Emotionally they made a nine year gain in personality and maturity. And that’s really exciting because it means that those people, because of this controlled stressor, because they were safe the whole time, just had a lot of challenge, because of the controlled stressor they are going to come back advantaged over all their peers. As undergraduates at university they are not going to wipe themselves out with alcohol and they are not going to play with paper darts. They are going to know how to have fun, but they are also going to keep their eyes on the target, work hard and they are not going to be upset when there are tragedies, threats and reversals. Their maturity will let them cope with it.”
– Excerpt from ABC television program, “Stepping Forward, Looking Back” produced by David Flatman Productions.
In participating in a WEP student exchange or study abroad program, your child is joining the ranks of thousands of others whose experiences abroad have helped open the door to successful futures in a variety of industries and sectors. Day-after-day, we hear stories from our wonderful network of returned WEP exchange students who have gone on to succeed, to innovate and to lead.
“My WEP exchange gave me a confidence I would never have believed achievable. I have a new, diverse view of the world.” Greta spent a semester in Belgium. She studied Law and Global Studies and, at the time of writing, was working for the Australian Red Cross.
Student exchange not only provides teenagers with considerable language skills (in non-English speaking countries) but also ‘soft skills’ like social maturity, intercultural communication and self awareness. In turn, through the international connections they create, exchange students contribute to peace and understanding between people of different backgrounds.
Despite the many and varied positive outcomes of WEP programs, sending your most prized possession, your child, overseas is no small thing. We understand how nervous you must feel! In fact, many of the WEP team have been where you are and felt what you are feeling. We have sent our own children on exchange, lived or studied overseas ourselves or hosted exchange students here, in Australia. Together, we bring a wealth of personal and professional experience to the program of each and every child that we send abroad.
During your child’s program, they will have access to a broad support network, but we are also here to support you through the process.
The student exchange industry has certainly faced challenges since its inception over a century ago. Student exchange has overcome many global events, not least world wars, natural disasters and several global pandemics (Spanish Influenza, 1918-1920; H1N1, 2009-2010 and now COVID-19, 2020). However, student exchange and WEP Australia more specifically, has continued towards our shared goal of enabling young people to make global friendships, enhance their language abilities and ultimately advance harmony across communities.
We are proud of our industry, of its aims and outcomes and we are passionate about enabling all students to create a successful future through WEP programs.
Muriel Scheid, CEO