NorthWest Student Exchange
Happy October, NWSE Exchange Community!

Get ready for the great fall and spooky Halloween celebration season!
Check out these recent NWSE Welcome Gatherings around the USA
Top Photo: Portland and Woodland, WA, students gather for a student orientation luncheon.

Middle Photo: Over 80 students and families gathered in Idaho for an outdoor Welcome Picnic. Pictured here are 19 of our NWSE students with our Area Coordinators.

Bottom Photo: Welcome to Texas! Twenty-two of our 28 students gathered with their host families for a Welcome party meet and greet with our Dallas-Fort Worth Area Coordinator team.
It's Time to Enter the NWSE Halloween
Pumpkin Photo Contest!
October means Halloween - and Halloween means carving pumpkins! It's time for you to enter the annual NWSE Halloween Pumpkin Carving Photo Contest! Just create a cool pumpkin design and email us your photos for a chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift Card! 
Contest Rules:

Be creative and carve an original pumpkin design into your pumpkin. Submit two photos via email to with the subject line Pumpkin Photo Contest:

Photo 1: You with your pumpkin in a well-lit space. Your face should be clearly visible. Optional: Pose in a Halloween costume with your pumpkin!

Photo 2: Your pumpkin glowing in the dark. For extra fun, pose in a Halloween costume with your lit pumpkin (optional).

  • Photos must be high resolution and emailed to in JPG file format
  • The pumpkin must be designed and carved by you, the exchange student (you may receive some help from your host family or friends)
  • Just for fun, here is a link to NWSE contest pumpkins of years past

We look forward to getting and posting your Jack-O-Lantern photos very soon!

Deadline for photo contest submissions: 
November 1, 2023

We Want Your Stories!

Each NWSE newsletter features a story, news piece, or profile about at least one of this year's students and/or host families! Send us your photos and stories to or post them on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtags #nwse or #nwse_exchange ...or call or email us to interview you, and we will write the story!

Remember to follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube to find program photos, student videos, news articles, contests, NWSE announcements, and more! 
 NWSE students are already very busy participating in clubs, sports or fine arts. 
Send Us Your Homecoming Pics!

Homecoming is a fall highlight event at most American high schools - and especially for our exchange students! Share your experiences about this American high school tradition to, and we will and we will post your Homecoming photos and videos on our Instagram page. 
Help Your Exchange Student Defeat Homesickness 
As host families, we have the unique opportunity to support our international students on their journey away from home. Homesickness is common, and faced by many international students as they leave behind their familiar surroundings, loved ones, and culture. We can help our students manage and overcome this challenge with a compassion, understanding, and a few basic/fun activities.

🌍 Here are some helpful tips for host families who want to support their students who may be experiencing homesickness:

🌟 Encourage Open Conversations:
Check in with your student often. Let them share stories from home and listen with an open heart. It's essential they feel understood and not alone with their feelings.

🌟 Discover Local Surroundings Together:
Make a day of exploring local spots, eateries, and parks. Familiarizing them with their new surroundings can be a fun bonding activity.

🌟 Embrace Their Culture:
While sharing your family traditions, encourage them to introduce their festivals, food dishes, or practices. This mutual exchange deepens bonds and promotes understanding.

🌟 Create a Sense of Home:
Help them establish routines that mirror what they had back home, from morning rituals to bedtime practices.

🌟 Celebrate Their Independence:
Equip them with essential skills for daily living. Whether it's cooking a simple meal or navigating the bus route, these skills boost their confidence.

🌟 Prioritize Emotional Well-being:
Encourage activities that offer relaxation and reflection, such as journaling or meditation. Let them know it's okay to seek counseling or therapy if they feel the need.

Your support can make all the difference in their journey here.
Meet some of your NWSE Team Members in Seattle!
(and meet more next month...)
Harry O'Connell

Harry is one of our two Program Managers in Seattle. Among his other responsibilities, he works with our students from the Czech Republic, Ecuador, Germany, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, Poland, Mexico, and Brazil.  

During his formative years, Harry's family on Bainbridge Island hosted many NWSE students from all over the world. He majored in English Literature at the University of Washington, and then taught for five years in Seattle Public Schools. Harry enjoys communicating with students and families all over the world to establish exchange connections and relationships between diverse groups of people.

Verena Smykatz-Kloss

Originally from Germany, Verena serves as a Program Coordinator at NWSE, overseeing the programs of students from Italy, Spain and her home country. Verena first came to the U.S. as an exchange student (Arkansas) for her junior year in High School. Her resume is filled with international experiences: Prior to her U.S. exchange year, she spent 3 years living in Libya, attending a small German school for expat families; she studied Biology in Italy, receiving the Italian title "Dottoressa in Scienze Biologiche". Verena also worked for one year in Paris as an au pair. Later she embarked on a unique journey to New Zealand, where she taught German and Life Skills at a Waldorf School and worked there as an Exchange Coordinator. Since 2016, she has lived in the U.S. making many personal and professional connections in the Pacific Northwest. At NWSE she enjoys connecting with young people from all over the world, and helping them to enjoy and make the most out of their great exchange experiences. 
Nominate a Host Family!

Share your passion for cultural exchange with someone you know! We will provide a $175 award to thank you for nominating a family that hosts one of our students.

To nominate a host family, email us at, or fill out the
nomination form on our website.  
Best wishes,
Your NWSE Team