MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT MARIANNE MASON
Since founding in 1951, CHF has sponsored thousands of exchange teachers in U.S. schools all across the country. A not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization based in New York City, the work is dedicated to Cordell Hull, former U.S. 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 seeks to promote comity among nations through education and cultural exchange and is proud to sponsor 95% of teachers 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.
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 (though some insist they never experience any) and can be uncomfortable in the beginning several months. During 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 is also information in our Orientation Manual which may be downloaded from www.cordellhull.net/PW10, on suggestions for coping with the phenomenon. Eventually most foreign teachers find ways to adapt to and enjoy many 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.