Meet Liz Nelson
- International Exchange Coordinator (IEC) with EF High School Exchange Year
- Mother of three, ages 6, 6, and 9
- Host mother of teenage exchange student from Slovakia
1) Tell us about your role with EF and what attracted you to the opportunity.
I love meeting new people and feel strongly about mentoring young children and teenagers. When my daughter was born with a severe birth defect, my husband and I wanted to help other families that were affected by the same birth defect so we started a nonprofit. We had twins two and a half years later and I took time off of work to focus on raising my children. Now that they are all in school all day, I wanted to be able to contribute to my family some and also to my community, but specifically on a flexible basis.
When I learned about EF, I knew it would be a great opportunity for me. I used to be an animal control officer so this was a big shift in terms of the kind of work, but both are very meaningful and loving work to me. In this case, I have had the opportunity to meet some great teenagers across the globe who want to change the world, by learning about our culture and their host family’s community, and to give back. It’s great meeting some motivated teenagers that are eager to have a new family in the United States. Plus, finding a host family for them is fun!
2) You have been with EF less than one year and already placed 10 students. What do you think is the main skill set that is needed to make it work?
Networking and being yourself when you share what you do as an IEC. Being passionate about what you do is the key.
3) In addition to placing students in other people’s homes, you have an exchange student as well! How is it having a teenager in the house?
I opened my heart and home to an exchange student for a full year so we could try the experience firsthand. It has ups and downs but overall the experience has been wonderful and we love our exchange son. It has been a learning experience for our entire family. We have learned a lot from his culture, and he has learned a lot from us. It has helped me to help future host families when they host.
4) What would you tell a friend who was thinking of returning to the workforce or looking for something more flexible about this opportunity with EF?
The flexibility is wonderful as you can make your own hours and work from anywhere. The incentives are also key — I love how EF gives trips when you place students. I placed five last year and earned a trip to Thailand, and also qualified for the latest trip (my spouse included) to Cancun. I have a wonderful Regional Coordinator, who supports all of the IECs in our area, and has helped us through our first full year hosting. EF is very supportive and are always there when you need them.
Check out EF’s latest trip for their IECs in Cancun, Mexico, here! https://vimeo.com/253129502
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