How can you be involved?
Parents can be involved with the international experience in so many ways!
First, discuss all of the options for their time abroad with your student. Discuss locations and different types of experiences. A student may think that the faculty-led program is best because they have had friends who have participated or who will go with them, but a longer, more independent program may be better for their specific needs or interests. We can also help connect your students to one of our JBIP Ambassadors, who will share his/her experience. Hearing from another student may help make the decision clearer.
It is important that you provide ongoing support from the time that applications are submitted, throughout the experience abroad, and after their return. International travel will be the experience of a lifetime, but it can be stressful and confusing as well. Once your student selects a program you can help them prepare by purchasing books, watching movies about the location, finding a local restaurant to try the cuisine, or looking into the cultural resources close to you. Help your student with a packing list, and with preparations for their international travel, including changing money, keeping a copy of his/her passport at home, and calling credit card companies to alert them to overseas use.
When your student travels abroad, there is a possibility that he/she will experience symptoms of culture shock. Remember that the first panicked phone call may be from a jet lagged student who is experiencing a new culture for the first time. Students often go up and down with culture shock, from a state of infatuation with a culture, to a state of discontent and homesickness. This is all normal and part of the journey that child will appreciate for the rest of their lives. Listen to his/her problems and provide a safe, friendly place to talk, but make sure that the culture shock doesn't ruin the trip. Help your student go from culture shock to culture shift. Culture shift is when students can compare their home culture and host culture and see that they exist differently. These differences are ultimately what make the world go round!
Support your child when he/she returns home. Many students go through reverse culture shock upon return to the US. Help him/her through the process by engaging in their journey. Help them tell their story through photos, memory books, international dinners, and family gatherings. You may not be able to understand what it is like to ride an elephant in India, but you can relish in the joy that it brought your student!