Whom am I going to host? Does my partner also like rap music? Is my foreign friend willing to eat vegetarian food? These questions normally arise when the students get to know that they will take part in the exchange project. To find a fitting partner without really knowing all the students is a rather impossible task for the project coordinators. Therefore the teachers regularly request some written written application forms from the participants.
But what information should these documents include?
Allergies and aversions
The most important question is about animal allergies. You can’t match a student who is allergic to cats with a cat lover’s household even if the children would otherwise be a perfect match. That’s why we not only ask for all allergies but also for aversions for dogs, cats or other pets.
“Tell me which music you are listen to and I tell you who you are.” Would you really put a classical violin player with somebody who regularly listens to death metal? Rather not! It could work like a charm but it’s highly probable to get a misfit. That’s why we always want to know the music preferences of every student.
Hobbies and spare time activities
Another interesting fact to know are the hobbies of the participants. Often it is just practical to put active athletes in a team as well as all the movie lovers. An exchange project is about communication and the students should have something to talk about. Shared values and activities are the best foundation of an interesting exchange to come.
Shy and academic or athletic and social active
Finally we ask the students to characterise themselves. This characterisation is not as important for the matching as many parents think. Because sometimes it is just great to mix students with different characters traits and sometimes it’s not. Out of experience we can say that the children are more tolerant on this topic as many people think and they often complement each other if they have different characteristics.
What’s happening in your neighbourhood?
All students have to add pictures to their short “letter of introduction” showing family, their house or just their friends. Three to four sentences explaining their expectations and feeling towards the exchange mostly help to find a fitting partner, too.
Anything else? Of course!
After the teachers have matched the students, the participants usually receive each other’s application form. That’s why the phone number, the address or just information about social media usage is more than useful.
Even if the teachers get all information and match the participants as well as possible, there is always the chance that the children won’t become best friends. Nevertheless the exchange can become a great success. An open mind, patience and tolerance helps to respect each other’s feeling and to make the visit of the German or Indian student an unforgettable experience.