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Posted on Nov 1, 2016

Clear Communication Builds Relationship

Clear Communication Builds Relationship

by Marlene Bylenga, SCSBC International Education Coordinator ◊ 

One of the unique features of an International Program is the homestay program. In a school environment, every day there are new things to learn and new challenges to face. For an international student, this is even more undeniable. Not only are students coming to study in a different environment, but they are also experiencing home life in a very different culture. At times, misunderstandings occur, loneliness sets in, students and homestay parents become frustrated, and relationships breakdown.

Recently, I have been reflecting on two different situations with two different outcomes.

  • When school staff take the time to build relationships with parents, explain policies and procedures, and communicate on a regular basis, many misunderstandings can be resolved.
  • When policies and procedures are not followed, more difficulties can be the result. When we try to take shortcuts or make exceptions, we run into trouble, and it is hard to build trust and resolve differences. When parents and students have an understanding of guidelines and policies, it is easier to come to resolutions.

As we enroll international students, our first focus should be on building trust-filled relationships with parents and students. It is my experience that the most successful students are those whose parents are connected to the staff in the international student program, understand the values of the school and support the homestay guidelines. When trust has been established between the parents and the school, there is a relationship of mutual respect. Then if misunderstandings arise, it is easier to work through the issues because the relationship has a firm foundation.

Establishing relationship begins in the application process. Ensuring that parents understand the mission and vision of your school, and taking the time to hear the parents’ concerns and reasons for sending their children is a building block in establishing good connections. The importance of a face to face interview cannot be overemphasized.

In addition, if at all possible, it is important that the host parents and the student’s parents have a trust-filled relationship. Many parents accompany their children to this country when they begin school. I take these times to ensure that parents meet the host parents and visit with them in their home. Meeting and visiting with each other allows parents and host parents to learn a little more about each other. Host families who are committed to building strong relationships with their student and family are the backbone of an international program. Beautiful relationships develop between host and student parents and through them strong ties are built with other families in the school community. Our community is enlarged.

Lastly, be available and take the time to “hear.” Find ways to establish communication. Using social networks, regular emails, telephone calls or a quick text to parents and homestay parents can be good ways to keep in contact.

Building community is a key element in our Christian schools. Building community with parents whose students are studying here from overseas is another way to extend our tent pegs.

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