By Pam Worth, Local Coordinator, and Lexy Deutsch, Short-term Programs Assistant

This year we brought on brand new local coordinator Pam Worth and we could not be luckier to have her on our team. Reigning from Deerfield, Illinois, Pam is the founder of an exciting program called Tiny Treks. Tiny Treks blends Pam’s love for the outdoors with her educational background, and it serves “as an innovate alternative to indoor childhood programming.” Pam’s experience surely helped her succeed as a local coordinator for CCI Greenheart.

Pam’s very first task as a local coordinator was working with the Short Term Programs department to place a group of 12 Spanish students for one month. Not only did Pam recruit all 12 families, but she also coordinated an awesome program including 12 hours of English language class a week, 4 full day excursions, and countless half day activities. At the end of each day Pam even made an effort to blog about her experience. We wanted to share a snippet of her experiences with you and you can also read the full blog at www.tinytreks.com/blog.

Pam’s blog is a great guide for new group local coordinators looking for tips on how to go with the flow, manage a large group, listen to your students, and incorporate as much English learning as possible.

Arrival day: June 29

The long awaited day is finally here. At the airport I am surrounded by excited and eager families waiting to greet their Spanish Exchange student.  As the coordinator of the program I felt a little nervous to make sure everyone was safely in their hosts hands right after we saw them go through the gates.  Everyone from the host group was happily chatting and it confirmed for me what I knew after visiting each host home over the past few months, we had an amazing group of families.

Suddenly a sea of red shirts were pouring out of the sliding doors of international doors A.  I immediately went into teacher mode and asked everyone to gather in one spot.  The students and hosts found each other without much help from me because most had been Skyping and emailing already.  Within literally minutes everyone was where they needed to be and in their hosts cars ready to go with their families and see where they would be living for the next month.  As I drove home I felt a flood of relief at how smoothly the transition went at the airport.  I think it is an indication of the month ahead.  Theme of our week is getting to know you, learning about the USA with 4th of July around the corner.

July 1

We decided because the World Cup was being broadcasted on huge screens in one of the historic and cool stadiums in Chicago, Soldier Field, we would switch our calendar and head downtown to see how crazy Chicagoans get about our sports.  Sam made sure everyone was face painted in red/white/blue.  He gave everyone a trivia sheet about the USA and fun facts for the kids to memorize for the day.  The day was a blur as the kids trekked past sculptures and skyscrapers in awe of our gorgeous city on their way to Soldier Field.  We picnicked and waited in a very long line to get inside.  The kids were surrounded by loud and crazy USA fans and simply “people watching” was a blast.  A long and exciting game and the walk back to the train.  A few missed trains, a little bit of heat, lots of extra water bought for the kids, dinner out at the train station and finally exhausted on the train ready to go to bed.

 July 15

We had one of our busiest days today.  We took the train to Chicago and spent the morning having an architectural tour of Chicago.  Water Riders was the operation and they are a great company that pioneered the ideas of kayaking the Chicago River in the city.  It was a wonderful morning tour.  Sam is also a tour guide for Water Riders, so he was able to give us our own private tour.  It was an amazing way to see a new perspective of Chicago.

Evening on our last day: July 26

We had a beautiful thank you to the hosts and farewell party.  Each student gave their host family a lovely frame they crafted with a picture of the family including the exchange student.  Most importantly the students wrote heartfelt and thoughtful notes thanking their families.

Sam had a beautiful ceremony where he honored each student and shared their accomplishments this month.  He gave each student a framed picture of our trip to Chicago to see the last game for the US in the World Cup.

Everyone enjoyed, Pizza, Chicken, Chips, Fruit, bagel dogs and different salads.

Lots of hugs and fun. We said goodbye until we say our final goodbye at the airport on Sunday.

Thank you Pam for coordinating this group and sharing your blog. Your work inspires us and we hope it inspires other coordinators as well!

If you are interested in hosting for CCI Greenheart please visit Host a Foreign Exchange Student to learn more.