MESSAGE FROM MARIANNE MASON
Since founding in 1951, CHF has sponsored thousands of exchange teachers across the country. As a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization, the Foundation’s work is dedicated to Cordell Hull, Secretary of State and Nobel Peace Laureate honored for his efforts as prime architect of the United Nations. In keeping with the late Secretary’s wishes, CHF promotes comity among nations through education and cultural exchange, sponsoring teachers primarily in language immersion, Baccalaureate, bilingual, or foreign language curricula. Programs focus on (1) immersion schools in which the entire curriculum is taught in a foreign language–French, Spanish, Italian, German and Greek immersion, (2) Hanban Mandarin language programs supported by the Chinese government, and (3) International Baccalaureate schools. Demand for native-speaking language teachers continually expands as language-immersion schools are springing up as public charter schools in many states: New York, California, Oregon, Louisiana, Indiana.
We take pride in presenting orientations for new teachers in ten or more cities all over the US in New York City, New Orleans, Los Angeles and San Francisco and cities in between narrated by native speakers of French, Spanish, or English and sometimes Mandarin. Though all teachers are tested for English fluency, it is 100% more likely that non-native speakers of English will absorb these nuances and complexities if expressed in their own language within the first two months of arriving in the U.S. These all-day workshops explain the intricacies of the J-1 visa, the phenomenon of Culture Shock, and strategies for communicating with American parents in different settings.
A primary benefit of living in another country is biculturalism–while adapting to a different set of values and customs, simultaneously viewing one’s own culture more objectively. The gradual adjustment process usually involves a degree of culture shock and can be uncomfortable in the beginning several months. During the required orientations for new teachers, CHF presents a session on culture shock breaking down the process into five stages of adjustment aided by animations of each stage designed by former J-1 exchange teacher Tom Gilbert. There are also suggestions for coping with the phenomenon in our Orientation Manual which may be downloaded from www.cordellhull.net/PW10. Eventually most teachers find ways to adapt to and enjoy numerous aspects of American culture.
CHF offers teachers the opportunity to broaden and deepen perspective, increase objectivity, developing a more realistic, practical sense of how the world works. It is usually not a simple or easy adjustment, but most participants find opportunities to expand individual human potential, increase independence and self-esteem. I am privileged to take part in facilitating personal and professional growth for foreign educators, for American citizens, and for international residents in the US whose lives they impact.