July 31, 2023

Enhance the Exchange Experience: Become an Ayusa Community Representative

A group of young foreign exchange students draped in their home countries' flags poses for a picture in front of a lake

Interested in getting involved in the foreign exchange experience but aren’t sure where to begin? Maybe you have a desire to help international students but aren’t quite ready to make the leap to hosting. Having served in foreign exchange services for more than 40 years, we know a thing or two about the misconceptions of hosting foreign exchange students, namely, that hosting is the only way to get involved. Good news: it’s not! Become a Community Representative with Ayusa, and discover the rewards of pairing great host families with the best foreign exchange students! 

At Ayusa, we’ve paired thousands of families with foreign exchange students from across the globe. Our passion is giving bright, promising international students the opportunity to visit and study in the United States, gaining invaluable cultural and educational experiences while sharing some of their own with their host families and communities.

An integral part of our foreign exchange program capabilities is our Community Representative (CR) service. Join us as we explore all the features and benefits our CRs bring to Ayusa, and to the families and students that make foreign exchange a success! We answer all your questions, including:

  1. What is the Ayusa program all about?
  2. What is an Ayusa Community Representative?
  3. What is the role and responsibilities of a Community Representative? 
  4. How do I become a Community Representative with Ayusa? 

Let’s take a closer look at Ayusa and our Community Representative program.

What is the Ayusa Program? 

Before covering all the details, roles, and responsibilities of our CRs, it’s important to understand what Ayusa is all about, as well as what we offer and expect via our hosting program

Founded in 1981, Ayusa—or “Academic Year in the U.S.A.”—embarked on its 40-years-plus (and counting) journey in foreign exchange student services. Our program’s earliest days as a nonprofit in San Francisco saw staff operating out of a renovated warehouse, nicknamed the “Icehouse,” near the Embarcadero. Since then, we have had the pleasure of pairing thousands of exchange students with welcoming families in the U.S., as well as expanding study abroad opportunities to Germany and Japan

While our program has had its fair share of success within our doors, it is the wins our exchange students experience that truly make Ayusa what it is today. Most recently, former Ayusa student Haya Al-Kubati received The Diana Award, presented to young people bringing positive impact to their communities. This award, presented by the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, is the highest honor a young person can receive for creating positive change within their community, and Haya received this distinction for her volunteerism, as well as her podcast promoting awareness about environmentalism, “Youth and Sustainability.” Why did Haya feel so compelled to bring awareness to such pressing issues? As she shares:

“I knew what not having a place to call home means, and I wanted better for the people around me."

Along with Haya’s incredible achievements, Ayusa’s participants have gone on to break boundaries, develop fulfilling careers, and even return to Ayusa as staff members! Our amazing alumni include:

This is just a small sampling of the truly life-changing work our alumni have performed around the world, thanks in large part to foreign exchange programs. Interested in being part of these experiences? Let’s take a quick tour of Ayusa, to share the type of work we do and the amazing people who help foreign exchange succeed. 

A Brief History of Ayusa

After opening our doors in 1981, Ayusa embarked on a decades-spanning journey of bringing intelligent, adventurous, and qualified students from around the world to the U.S. to study, engage in cultural exchange, and take applicable experiences back to their home countries. Our services have brought students from all over, including Yemen, Oman, Sierra Leone, Italy, Germany, Japan, and Viet Nam, just to name (quite) a few. 

Interested in meeting our students? Check out all of the countries our exchange students hail from!

Key dates in Ayusa’s long and storied history include:

  • 1982: Ayusa becomes a U.S.-designated Exchange Visitor Program sponsor, enabling the program to offer and sponsor students through the J-1 visa program.
  • 1984: Ayusa becomes a founding member of the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), a listing Ayusa has been certified and approved for every year since.
  • 1985: Ayusa’s exchange student services expand into Asia, as the program receives a grant from USIA to open a Regional Center in Tokyo, Japan.
  • 1989: Ayusa continues its growth and expansion, as the Central and Eastern Europe Regional Center (AICEE) opens in Belgrade, Serbia.
  • 1990: Ayusa grows even more, opening its new offices in Stuttgart, Germany (later to be moved to Berlin).
  • 2003: Ayusa is awarded a major grant from the U.S. Department of State to administer the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) Program, an academic year program promoting relations through foreign exchange between countries with significant Muslim populations.
  • 2021: Ayusa celebrates its 40th anniversary! 

While Ayusa has been instrumental in providing foreign exchange programs to students throughout the world—for students, host families, and schools—our story has only just begun.

So, how can you become a vital part of our success here at Ayusa? Let’s dive into everything you need to know to become an Ayusa Community Representative! 

What is a Community Representative? 

Community Representatives, or CRs, are crucial to the success of the Ayusa program. While our staff focuses on pairing the right host student with their perfect host family, our CRs serve as support throughout the entire exchange process. They work closely with all parties—host families, participating schools, and our foreign exchange students—fostering cross-cultural understanding, providing much-needed information and assistance, and promoting relationships that will last a lifetime.

“When you join the Ayusa team, you are joining a community of people who believe in changing the world, one exchange at a time.”

While the CR program is designed to be part-time, allowing you to engage in life-changing exchange work without sacrificing other responsibilities, our Community Representatives are fully equipped with everything they need to execute their necessary duties, including:

  • Training: CRs receive specialized training that covers everything you’ll need to know, from providing advice to host families to corresponding with local schools
  • Materials: All CRs are provided with necessary materials for guidance on interactions and protocols for supporting host families, students, and schools
  • Support: Our CR program is its own community, sharing tips, information, and assistance when needed, as well as creating a helpful support network to all our representatives

Joining Ayusa in the CR role means you become a brand ambassador for Ayusa, working directly with our dedicated schools, host families, and students to enhance the exchange experience for everyone involved. So, what skills and characteristics do our best CRs showcase? They include:

  • Community outreach experience
  • Sales background
  • Networking experience
  • Prior knowledge of local school systems
  • Strong communication skills
  • Ability to work independently
  • Ability to work under deadline

But, don’t let any of these qualifications deter you from applying. Have sales experience but no prior knowledge of school systems? You might still be the perfect fit for Ayusa! Involved in your local high school’s front office but a novice networker? Apply today, and we’ll get you caught up to speed! Because the number one qualification we look for in our CRs is a passion to help students, host families, and local schools have the best exchange experience possible! 

Does the CR role sound like a good fit for you or someone you know? Check out all the responsibilities Ayusa expects of our valued CRs, and visit our CR job description to start your application process today! Still deciding? Let’s dive into all the responsibilities you’ll have as an Ayusa Community Representative. 

What Are Community Representatives’ Roles and Responsibilities? 

The CR role and responsibilities require you to be multifaceted: able to network effectively to foster a community of helpers for all parties in the exchange process, perform effective community outreach to locate ideal host families and schools that fit Ayusa’s mission, and market the Ayusa name as an invaluable brand ambassador. 

Our CRs are the epicenter of the exchange experience. They assist in welcoming and integrating international exchange students into their local communities and schools, working with students, families, high schools and community members directly—from start to finish—to enhance the exchange experience for everyone involved. You will be the primary point of contact for a majority of your foreign exchange community, fostering cultural relations and inspiring lifelong and globe-spanning friendships between former strangers. 

As an Ayusa CR, your responsibilities couldn’t be more necessary to the foreign exchange process. We take pride in locating, communicating, and connecting with amazing host families to house, care for, and support incredible foreign exchange students. This mission wouldn’t be possible without our CRs. 

As a Community Representative, you will be expected to: 

  1. Act as the point of contact for your local high schools, determining space availability, enrollment procedures, and school rules and regulations to be relayed to incoming exchange students, all with the support of an Ayusa regional manager. 
  2. Attend all meetings and complete all paperwork required by your high school systems in order to place exchange students.
  3. Recruit, screen, and qualify host families, in accordance with Ayusa-mandated training and materials on best practices for finding quality host families.
  4. Respond to hosting inquiries with pertinent follow-up information and directions on proceeding with the application process. 
  5. Conduct interviews with potential host families, including visits to all family members and households, and assessments of living environments. 
  6. Maintain open lines of  contact with host families before and after the arrival of exchange students.
  7. Participate in student and host family orientations.
  8. Conduct monthly check-ins with students and host families with full monthly progress reports on each student.
  9. Perform one mandatory in-person visit to host families and students once per school semester.
  10. Provide assistance and support to students, host families, and schools throughout the length of the program, acting as backup host in the case of an emergency.
  11. Coordinate with a supportive Ayusa regional manager to ensure all steps in assisting host families and schools are taken and completed. 
  12. Complete all required training per Ayusa guidelines.

As a professionally-trained CR, you will be assigned to work with your family and student for the entirety of the exchange program. Keeping open lines of communication between yourself, your host families, exchange students, and local high schools is the best way to ensure everyone is comfortable and cared for during the foreign exchange experience. 

Your monthly report will act as a progress update for both your hosts and Ayusa, keeping track of your student’s progress during their stay. This report includes: 

  • Updates on interactions with host family and friends
  • Academic achievements, awards, and outlook
  • Extracurricular and social activities 

As a CR, you inherit many large responsibilities to everyone involved in the foreign exchange process, including Ayusa. But, don’t worry: you won’t ever have to go it alone. All Ayusa CRs are supported by a team of dedicated regional and national Ayusa staff, available 24 hours a day in case of an emergency.

As you can see, our exchange program depends largely on the capabilities of our Community Representatives. Without dedicated, passionate CRs, Ayusa would not be able to provide the enriching, transformative opportunities for deserving students and host families across the country and the world. Contact us today to learn more about our hosting opportunities, and learn more about the exciting, vital work our CRs do every single day! 

How can you Become a Community Representative With Ayusa?

Ready to start changing the lives of our amazing host families and exchange students? It’s easier than you think! Apply today to join our team, and become the next Community Representative and Ayusa ambassador. Similar to applying as a host through Ayusa, our CRs just need to follow a simple three-step process to get started: 

  1. Express your interest. Reach out to us today to express interest in the CR role, and we will connect you with a representative to give you all the information you’ll need.
  2. Complete your application. One of our Ayusa representatives can help you complete the application, answer any questions you may have about the CR role, and even get you in touch with other CRs to share experiences and tips! 
  3. Start changing the world! Once hired as an Ayusa CR, your next step is to start training to change the world for lucky host families and exchange students, enhancing the foreign exchange experience for everyone involved.

As an Ayusa Community Representative, you’ll have one of the most important jobs in the foreign exchange student program. Families, students, and schools will rely on you for more than just rules and regulations; they will come to you for advice, recommendations, and necessary guidance to ensure the exchange experience is as valuable as possible.

We here at Ayusa are committed to giving all parties in the exchange process the tools for success. Our CRs are, at all times, ready to help in any situation, take on any challenge, and provide the best stay for our foreign exchange students, their host families, and their schools and communities, with Ayusa supporting them at every step. With over 40 years of service in inbound and outbound exchange programs, we’re still finding exciting and fun ways to improve the foreign exchange experience for everyone involved—including you!

More Ways to Support Ayusa

Interested in helping Ayusa in more ways? Support Ayusa beyond your work as a CR or host family through contributions like: 

  • Refer a host to Ayusa
  • Lobby your local schools
  • Spread the word about Ayusa

Refer a Host to Ayusa

Want to help a passionate host family take the next step in finding the right foreign exchange student? Refer a host, and get them started on a life-changing journey they’ll never forget. Plus, as a little thank you for doing the work for us, we provide $200 for every approved host family once they begin! 

Lobby Your Local Schools

Reaching out to your local school to launch a foreign exchange program is a great start to welcoming more culture and inclusion into your community. Ayusa’s schools add so much more to their curriculum and student body through student exchange programs, including:

  1. Bringing new and unique cultural perspectives to the classroom
  2. Providing exposure to new languages 
  3. Increased diversity among your student body and curriculum

Lobby your local school to partner with Ayusa today, and bring cultural diversity to class! 

Spread the Word

Does your work schedule or prior commitments prevent you from joining us as a Community Representative or host family at this time? Don’t worry; there’s still one surefire way to become a valued Ayusa ambassador: you can spread the word about Ayusa! 

Spreading the word is about more than referring hosts and lobbying schools (although, we can’t thank you enough for doing either of those)! Reading our stories, sharing our mission, and engaging with us on social media are all valuable ways to promote Ayusa and foreign exchange programs at large.

Join Ayusa and Become a Community Representative Today

Ready to begin your journey as an Ayusa Community Representative? Apply now, and our team will begin the process of seeing if you’re the right fit for Ayusa! Looking to learn more about our program and hosting in general? Request more information, or discover more of our stories about the foreign exchange hosting experience. 

Ayusa is here for all of your frequently asked questions around becoming a valued Community Representative to our host families. We’re excited to share this journey with you, and look forward to working together to create a better hosting experience for everyone! 

Sharing cultures and building communities with high school exchange.

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