I went on a high school exchange year two years ago now and it was by far the best thing I've ever experienced and I recommend it to every teenager who like to travel, to meet new people, to learn a language and to discover a new culture! There is nothing i regret about it as it gave me so many memories that i'll never forget!
I have traveled with EF for my exchange year in the United States. It was simply the most wholesome and amazing experience of my life. Not only the support team was always there when I needed their help, but EF also made me meet people from all over the world: Germany, Italy, Japan...
If there is one thing your teenager should do during their time in highs chool, it would be an exchange year. The confidence, perseverance, and connections are among the most valuable assets I have gained throughout this adventure.
I spent a semester in San Diego, California with Ef in 2019. I highly recommend the organization. They are very reliable and they have taken care of every need I had through the hardest times of my exchange experience. They have staff all over the place ready to support the young students and to give them a hand when in need. They also create a broad network of students from all over the world that interact as ambassadors before, during and after the Exchange program, making the cultural exchange experience last much longer than the 6-12 month that the kid spends abroad. In comparison with other companies I have interacted with they are the best one!
it's been the best year of my life! i got the chance to meet a lot of people from different countries. I've experienced the American High school and most of the activities such as sports and clubs.
I suggest this experience to everyone not only for learn a new language and be confident with it but also to make yourself grow and understand what you can actually do once you get out from your comfort zone.
The EF team is always ready to support you in every situation.
I took in a Thai teenager who didn't like the host family (also an IEC) he was staying with. The exchange student was a friend of my sons at school and we were asked to take him so we did. During the COVID19 outbreak they decided to ship all the kids home. I wanted my student to stay with me where he had been quarantined and so did he and his mother. I fought with many people and it was not an option. His flight has been changed many times. He is very upset and is suddenly leaving tomorrow morning, not in three days as last planned. We are rushing to get washed and packed. He is being flown two hours to Chicago where he will sit for over 7 hours, then fly to Qatar where he will lay over 11 hours!!! Then on to Thailand. Everything is closed in these airports, there is no food or drinks. I have raised hell with the local IEC and an online person that they are dropping this scared child in the Middle East to sit in an airport for 11 hours. They both told me it's fine, no big deal. One even said she sat at an airport 24 hours once and it wasn't that bad. They basically don't want responsibility for these kids anymore. My child could have stayed here for months but absolutely not!! They won't allow it. Now he traveling through five airports to possibly be exposed to coronavirus. Also his mother who saved a decade for this doesn't get a dime back. They told her it was unavoidable circumstances. I hate this company. They couldn't care less about these kids. They have sent kids back to Italy where they are dying in the streets! Do not use Education First! Find another program.
My family hosted an exchange student from Italy for the first time ever. We have never done anything like this and we thought it was going to be a fun year of travel and fun and it was until now. Now with this pandemic situation and the fact that EF made the worst decision to send all the exchange students home even tho Europe has more problems than we do is why I view as EF not knowing what they are doing. The fact that they tried to send my exchange student back to her home country that has a lot more problems with this pandemic than we do is ridiculous. It's too dangerous right now to travel anywhere to Europe and I just wish they realized that before making this decision and if they say safety is their number one priority, it isn't; because of what they just did. It's safer if all the exchange students stay in the U.S. until it's safe to go back.
Horrible Experience, other kids were rude and privileged. EF is the worst, go with another organization. Note that all the positive reviews are posted on the same day. They are totally fake.
Mixed feeling with this organization. But overall, it is truth that you might be able to get a good kid or a "prince/princess wanna be" and it is truth that in order to generate revenue they are taking anyone who has $18k to pay EF regardless their language skills and emotional status..... and it is truth that they need the host family for offering financial support so EF team can enjoy the profit from the student. And it is very truth that when things go sour, for example the kid is way above his her head to demand a loyal treatment, cash from the host family, won't help the chore, hide trash in the room..., EF team will tell you " well, they are kids and you need to teach them" and provide you very limited help but criticism. That is BS. So if you are ready to fund those privilege kids and spoil those EF staffs, go for it. Find a responsible EF staff to help you and don't be the ATM for EF/Kids so they can abuse you financially and emotionally.
I was a local coordinator with EF, and a host parent. I have since distanced myself from them. Other posts on here are very accurate. The office in Boston is extremely young. The average age is likely not even 25. Turnover is annual, but sometimes semi-annual, to be perfectly honest. They do care mainly about money and law suits. There are significant "double-standards". Some students get away with breaking rules, others get "final warnings", which mean very little, and others get sent home immediately for the same issue. It is quite bizarre. And, again, all of these decisions being made by 22-24 year old recent college graduates. There are blatant lies on behalf of the EF Boston staff to local coordinators and host families. Again, this is likely due to the young ages of the staff and lack of real-world experience. I don't want to go into detail, but it is rather disheartening.
I would protect your families, and steer clear of not only the organization's high school exchange program, but anything affiliated with EF (tours, language schools, etc...).
I have been hosting exchange students with EF for 6 years now. Each year my family host a student from a different country and have loved everyone of them and consider them as part of the family. EF has been a very supportive organization and with our family every step of the way. The students on the program are wonderful and have a true passion about learning what it means to be an American. I would highly recommend EF to anyone that wants to make a difference in the world. Thank you EF, for all that you do for your students and host families!
September 16, 2017
I am a local IEC in the _______, Ok area. Recently, I raised a concern to the local, regional coordinator by the name of Rose _______ about a student by the name of ___who was placed in _________, OK. Although my statement about the alleged inappropriate touch that the student shared with my husband James and I was forwarded in a separate email, I am writing today regarding my concern of how this crisis was mishandled. Repeatedly, my husband James and I informed Allison _______of our concerns regarding our safety of going to the _____ family home to pick up the student's belongings. Our concerns were, and I’m sure one would agree that with James and I initially reporting the alleged inappropriate abuse we did not feel comfortable going into an environment in which we reported the allegations.
When reports are made to Child Protective Services (CPS) the person who reports the abuse typically remain anonymous, and their identity is often concealed. Although a protocol is in place to contact CPS for allegations such as the ones in which _____ reported, what is in place to ensure that families are trained on how to de-escalate and manage such crises? Despite our best efforts of expressing our concerns with Allison, we felt as though our concerns were not valued. Moreover, we felt an enormous amount of pressure to go to the host families home despite our concerns and reported concerns from the student to pick up the student's belongings that were left. As host parents turned IEC's, we do not receive compensation for opening our homes to these students. However, to feel as though our concerns regarding safety is not of concern to EF High School Exchange is deeply troublesome.
I recently mentioned safety in the previous paragraph, allow me to further elaborate on this point. Allison informed my husband from New Jersey (according to the caller identification) that when he gets to the _____ home to call her ten minutes prior so that she can be on the phone with Mr. ____ in the event, he had questions about the student leaving. However, the day prior Allison was made aware that this location typically has limited cell phone coverage. I am requesting that someone explain how is calling and being on the phone beneficial in such instances? Does EF High School Exchange not collaborate with local organizations or include as part of their training a crisis intervention hotline that is staffed with personnel who are trained to assist and help coordinate the appropriate personnel to go into the residence in which the abuse took place?
Overall, my family felt abandoned during this process. We further felt as though our duty of reporting put us in a potentially hostile situation and further made us lose confidence in this program. To ensure my husband’s safety of obtaining _____ items I contacted the local law enforcement authorities (Deputy Michael _____) to assist in the retrieval of her belongings. Due to the nature of the concern, the deputy felt as though additional backup may be needed.
As I conclude, Allison asked James, and I if we felt as though Mr. ______ would become violent as if we were fully capable of answering this question. Let me say that despite the program’s best efforts of screening people, there are still character traits that are not screened and that no test can account for. Now that this issue has been brought to your awareness, what plans will you put in place to ensure that no family will undergo the feeling of being isolated and alone to handle such issues? Host Parents need to be reassured that everyone involved with EF High School Exchange program is of concern. Not just the student.
I look forward to working with you in the future about the issues outlined in this correspondence.
Note all names and locations have been forwarded to higher authorities and are listed in the original email
We entered the journey of having an exchange student with open hearts and excitement. After six months, our student began expressing a strong negative opinions about Americans. Our area coordinator was notified. At 7 months he was suspended from school. Our area coordinator was notified, but there was no repercussion from EF. At 9 months, he broke his tibfib and had emergency surgery. My husband and I both missed work to care for him. We signed all necessary financial documents for him to be cared for (even with Aetna insurance). We served him food, cleaned his room, rearranged our house, gathered all of his assignments, all while trying to maintain our normal family life with two other active teenagers. EF never acknowledged our new role as nurse. They never asked if this new role was too much for us. They are not your advocates. These students pay over 15k to come and sit on the couch of your home. They aren't really vetted except for their ability to pay the fees. And when a bad egg comes or unfortunate circumstances happen, you and your family bare the burden. Want an exchange student? Great. Go with Rotary. EF Exchange is not your partner.
About 6 moths ago I was approached to be an Exchange Coordinator at EF exchange. I have been talking to EF for about 6 months now, taking training, filling out applications, providing references, going through background checks, taking endless calls, inviting people into my home, refinishing my basement, buying a bed , creating a room for a student.
Last week I was told that my student was in the process of sending her transcripts to the school and we were almost there!
Today out of the blue I received a phone call from the applications department telling me that I was no longer being considered for a host family role because of 2 reasons:
1) I am not gainfully employed: I discussed this with the person that recruited me before this process commenced saying that I would perhaps be laid off at the end of March. I have severance until August and I am deep into an interview process for which I expect to receive an offer in the next week.
2) Apparently I am not "comfortable" with all of the requirements that a host family has to complete. Did I not:
Remodel my basement (at the tune of $5K) to make a space for the student?
Buy a bed for the student and create a space for her (another $700)
It was less than 2 weeks ago I voiced that I thought I would like to be a host family but not a coordinator. I needed to have an experience before I was able to effectively recruit families and let them know what they should expect. Does this constitute my not being comfortable? I think if anything it shows a vested interest in wanting to immerse in the process before being an advocate for it.
I am thoroughly disgusted by the operations at EF. If you are considering going through EF to host a student- look elsewhere.
Beware of false CPS complaints that EF will file. If a kid sees a better opportunity or "better host home" they will lie to get moved. If you don't travel and spend a ton of money you won't be good enough to volunteer as a host family! Huge liability to your family to host a student with this org.
STAY AWAY FROM EF!!!!! Worst organization ever... If you are a host family and have a problem good luck getting any help. EF Staff only get involved if their are concerns; however, host families are the ones who suffer as they do not hold students accountable. They are more interested in being "friends" with the teenage exchange students and collecting money from families. You can't trust or believe anything you are told by any of the coordinators or directors, they tell you one thing then do another and they completely undermine the authority in your home. Don't ever host female exchange students from Denmark, Norway or Sweden... (either in my home or in friends homes) are narcissistic manipulative LIARS. EF caters to the students and fail on supporting host families. Let me say this again, STAY AWAY FROM EF!!!!!
I have worked with EF for over 10 years now. We love hosting and we try to change up which country we choose from each year. Thailand, Norway, Germany, Switzerland, Sweden .... we love them all and each one brings us an exciting challenge and a chance to show off our little part of the world. Our lives have changed since we began this journey - with no kids of our own at home, it keeps us active and involved in our community.
We have hosted and worked with EF for the past 10 years, and it truly has changed our lives. The support that we receive prior to the kids arriving, while the kids are here, and if anything ever comes up they are there to help us out at anytime 24/7/365. The training that we get throughout the year keeps us on top of the High School Exchange programs. We did investigate many other programs before we decided that EF was the right program for us to be a part of. And to say that it was one of the best decisions we have ever made as a family. The amazing additions to our family are for always and forever!
Four years ago, an International Exchange Coordinator in Casper, Wyoming reached out to me about EF and it's mission. Hosting an exchange student had been something I had thought about for a while , however, I wanted to research EF Foundation (as well as other exchange organizations) to ensure I was choosing an organization who would provide outreach and support to its students and host families - particularly given the fact that I am a single man with no children!
Needless to say, EF was my choice and I am so thankful to be a part of the EF family! I have hosted four students through EF (I just placed my fourth on the plane back to Sweden yesterday) and will host TWO students this coming school year!!! EF has transformed my life!
I have been a volunteer host family with EF for many years now. This fall my family and I will welcome our 5th exchange student. We have shared our culture, our American way of life and our values with the students that have lived with us and we've learned so much about the world at the same time. It's clear how much EF cares about the students, the natural parents and the host families and does a wonderful job of bringing us all together. Our lives have been truly blessed by this organization.
This year we hosted 2 young men from Switzerland and The Netherlands. These guys make numbers 7 & 8, sons in our family over the years.
EF does a Great job in everything from screening the students in their home countries to the support from the local area coordinators and everything in between.
In our years as a host family, we've never had an issue come up that was anything more that a "normal" family would deal with and by being honest and open with communication and Not trying to blame others, we've had Fantastic years.
Anyone who thinks being involved in something this great is easy & anyone can do it is fooling themselves. The tears that flow at the airport when it's time for them to go home could wash away a drought, BUT so worth it because we have Family all over the world.
Great job EF & keep up the great work
We have been with EF for 10years now and our life would not be the same without this great company.. We have hosted 17 students and love each of them as our own child..
EF has continues to enrich our lives and students from all around the world..
I simply love this company...
Amazing organization. Have had 4 exchange students from different organizations. This one is a BY FAR the best organization out there. Will not even think about hosting through anyone but EF. My children have "sisters" from across the globe and we thank EF for all their support and always being there!! We can't wait for the next one coming in August!
Next year will be our fourth year in a row to host through EF. It has been an amazing experience for our entire family. We have family all over the world and it's an amazing feeling. We have been fortunate enough to visit our former students in their home country and been treated so kind by their grateful families. My family has learned so much about different cultures and it has been really educational. It's fun to see the students experience different things for the first time, and it opens our eyes to things we take for granted as Americans. The home office in Boston has always been available to us anytime we had any questions and are quick to help. They care about their students and the host families equally and do their best to make sure it's the best experience possible for everyone.
EF High School Exchange Year has changed our life. We now have family all over the world. We have a beautiful daughter in Italy that we have already went to visit and she has returned to the US to visit us as well. We have a daughter from Denmark that we have seen twice since she went home a year ago. We are now sending the two newest members of our family back to their homes in Germany and Spain. Our son's will be missed but we know we will see them soon. EF was available to us 24 hours a day and assisted quickly with any concerns or questions we had. The levels of support from EF was above and beyond anything I could have expected. I not only believed that they had my back but were also always available for the students to make sure they had the exchange year they always dreamed of. I will be involved with EF High School Exchange Year for many years and I'm truly looking forward to it.
STAY AWAY FROM EF!!!!! Worst organization every, the Boston office is full of very recent college graduates that don't have a clue. If you are a host family and have a problem good luck getting any help. They are more interested in being "friends" with the teenage exchange students then holding them accountable or enforcing the rules. You can't trust or believe anything you are told by any of the coordinators or directors, they tell you one thing then do another and they completely undermine the authority in your home. My other piece of advise don't ever host female exchange students from Denmark, all three that I have been exposed to (either in my home or in friends homes) are narcissistic manipulative LIARS. Even with proof EF wouldn't do anything about it. Let me say this again, STAY AWAY FROM EF!!!!!
They are terrible organization that I do NOT recommend anyone to involve with. They treat you like a crap and have absolutely no respect. They don't care what kind of family their foreign exchange students will be staying with. All they care about is money. As long as they can get money, they don't care about students and volunteers. They also practice illegal activities regarding placing students. They have got in many troubles before, but they act like they are good organization when they are not. I advise everyone to stay away from this b***s*** worst organization ever.
This is the WORST foreign exchange student organization you can ever imagine. They treat students, volunteer coordinators (IECs) and even their own staff very unrespectful manner. They treat you like crap & humiliate you big time. They try to place 3000+ students even though they can barely place half of it on time. They schedule coordinator trainings out of blue middle of the year and if you don't attend, they threaten you that you cannot supervise the foreign exchange students and their host families even you worked SO hard to place them. The staff in MA are bunch of jerks. The good decent people leave the organization pretty quickly (because they can't stand those losers). Therefore, the turn-over rate is very high. Also, some of the long-time coordinators are very arrogant and can be very nasty & territorial toward new coordinators. They have too much of attitude. I warn people not to involve this freaking organization that only takes advantage of you.