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Home stay organization founder Adam Lee provides cultural immersion

Julia Fikse | The Feather Online

International student coordinator Brooke Stobbe, right, meets with AmeriStudents concerning the upcoming Southern California college trip, Oct. 13.

The AmeriStudent organization is a program dedicated to providing a good education and safe homes for international students who want to study abroad in the United States. There are currently 25 international students at Fresno Christian with the organization.

AmeriStudent provides the long-term opportunity to study, or the chance to get a small taste of the culture during a five to-ten-day camp.

“We are an agency that has two goals,” Amanda Clark, the homestay coordinator, said, “We want to provide an exceptional experience for international students and we also want our host families to feel the same way. Life is crazy and full of adventure, AmeriStudent offers support for students and host families throughout the entire experience.”

CEO and co-founder Adam Lee has been involved in the company for four years since it’s inception. Fresno Christian was the first school to work with the company due to Lee’s relationship, having graduated with the class of ‘98.

“International programs are great opportunities for students, both domestic and international, to experience another culture,” Lee said. “Having grown up with three international kids living with me throughout my high school days, I can attest to that! It opens your eyes to how big this world is and how different it is outside of our bubble in Fresno, CA.”

Lee went on to say the program’s purpose for the international students is to provide a safe exposure to American culture.

Lee also believes the program is beneficial to both the local and international students: the American students encounter new cultures and ideas, and the international students are exposed to Christ.

“Many students who come to the USA have never been to church,” Lee said. “For them to learn about Jesus through school, other students, and host families is the biggest benefit I see in our program.”

Julia Fikse | The Feather Online

Fresno Christian has 25 students enrolled via the AmeriStudent program. Brooke Stobbe, center, coordinates their homestays with host families, teaches ESL classes and tutoring, and organizes any events or trips.

Frank Zhang, ‘20, said he came to Fresno Christian because his parents wanted him surrounded by the Christian environment. He said he appreciates the kindness he’s been shown by the Christians around him, and enjoys the freedom he receives from his teachers.

“I really like the Christians; they are very friendly and kind,” Zhang said. “[A Fresno Christian], it’s the freedom that the teachers give the students, because in China we do what the teachers need us to do.”

Lee is hoping to see growth throughout this year for the program. Until now, growth was not a priority, but instead, learning the systems, honing policies and procedures, and creating a program that runs smoothly and effectively. However, starting this year, growth within the program is becoming a focus.

“I set goals monthly for AmeriStudent and have specific measurable tasks to ensure I achieve them,” Lee said. “When I achieve them, I celebrate them, then move on to the next.”

Creating a new position to accommodate the school’s quick growth, Brooke Stobbe, the international student coordinator, recently began working with the international students at Fresno Christian, from organizing their homestays to tutoring and teaching English. Stobbe is a FC alumna who graduated in 2012 and earned her masters degree from Arizona State in mass communication and journalism in 2016. 

“I try to help them provide outlets for them to integrate into the school better, so they don’t feel so isolated,” Stobbe said. “Right now I really just want them to integrate– that is my goal for the year! In terms of growing, I would like to see, as opposed to being in the regular English class, to have an English for learners class.”

International programs are great opportunities for students, both domestic and international, to experience another culture. Having grown up with three international kids living with me throughout my high school days, I can attest to that! Living with international students opens your eyes to how big this world is and how different it is outside of our bubble in Fresno, CA. — Adam Lee, AmeriStudent founder

Stobbe and Clark both iterate an enthusiasm to use the program as a resource for integrating international students, and hopes they are pushed out of their comfort zones and make the most of the experience.

“Our program constantly strives to figure out new ways to hopefully integrate the two student groups,” Clark said. “We hope to one day achieve a cohesive and unified student body. Not international students or local American students, we hope to live in a time where all students identify as Fresno Christian students, or whatever prospective school we are speaking of.”

Part of that integration is encouraging international students to join school sports, clubs and organizations. James Lao, ‘19, said he wants to maximize him time abroad. He came to study in America specifically to improve his English and make new friends, and is doing so by playing on the varsity basketball team, and attending school events like homecoming.

“Free[dom], you know, there a lot of trends in America and we can do anything we want, there’s lots of opportunities,” Lao said. “California is good, I like it because I live here. I came to America to improve my English and make more friends.”

Clark has been working with the program for two years now, and previously worked mainly alongside the families and students in Fresno, but is now working toward recruitment on a national scale. She helps the families decide if being involved in the homestay program is something they’re interested in, places students in compatible homes, and organizes home visits.

“My official job title is homestay coordinator but in a small company, we each wear many hats,” Clark said. “I’m the first point of contact for any family in the nation that’s interested in our program.”

According to the website, AmeriStudent is dedicated to helping their clients and keeping them safe throughout the entire journey.

“From the moment our clients choose our company to the final plane ride back to their native countries, AmeriStudent is there, offering a wide array of excellent educational opportunities through our partnering schools, safe and quality homestay, and 24/7 support for every step of the journey.”

AmeriStudent is a program dedicated to students and exposing them to American culture and helping them grow in another language and new friendships.

For more on students studying abroad, read Tuyet Lu inspires international students to engage in culture  and Fresno State to offer help with application process, Oct. 16

This author can be reached via email: Toryn Triplitt or on Twitter:  @toryntriplitt

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