Coed, independent, PK3-12th grade school in St. Petersburg, Florida.

My Experience Hosting an Exchange Student

by Sandra Epstein, Alumni Legacy Parent
Julieta Correas, a teacher from Argentina, travels with Argentinian students to the USA and/or UK annually. She started visiting Shorecrest in 2003, extending the Global Scholars Initiative. Her students live with Shorecrest families, spend their days in classrooms, meet students, practice speaking English, and at the end of the visit they give a presentation about their country and culture.

From January 28 - February 22, 2019, Shorecrest welcomed two high schoolers, 17-year-old Agustín and his 15-year-old sister Macarena. They attend a private school in Mendoza. Agustín stayed with Logan Stenger '19 and Macarena stayed with the Epstein family. Sandy Epstein and her husband, Jay '84, both attended Shorecrest, as did their daughters Allison '18 and Samantha '18. Their daughter Lauren is currently in the sophomore class. Sandy shared her family's experience hosting an Argentinian student.

Over the course of our past fourteen years at Shorecrest, I have heard about the exchange student program, but had never given it much consideration. As a busy mother of three over-scheduled daughters, and a working mom trying to run a dental practice, this did not seem like a very practical idea. However, as the girls became older and more self-sufficient, I began to think about the prospect of hosting a student and the experience it could provide us all. Our home has always been full of activity but had recently calmed down as our twins left for college last fall. All of a sudden our chaotic house was far too quiet and empty. When we decreased from a family of five to only three very suddenly, our youngest found herself as an only child for the first time. This led to the decision that this was the perfect time to add another child to our mix - much to my husband's surprise!

When Shorecrest needed homes for two Argentinian siblings, it seemed to be the right time and the perfect student. Our family loves to travel, and my children have always done well in Spanish-speaking countries, and I was excited about the idea of our girls improving their language skills. We welcomed Macarena from Argentina In January, and she stayed with us for one month, shadowing Lauren, our sophomore, to every class and activity, living life as an American teenager. She was a wonderful houseguest and went along with us in whatever we did, as part of our family. She was eager to eat out, go to the beach, and became my gym partner every night while Lauren was studying.

While we did not learn as much Spanish as I had hoped because she was more interested in learning English, we certainly tried to communicate in Spanish occasionally. When I asked her what her favorite part of her visit was, she stated, "The school and the family, the people are so nice!" When asked her least favorite, she definitively said, "Eating dinner at 6:30pm." She was accustomed to dinners after 10:30pm and going to bed around midnight or 1am, and our early dinners were difficult for her. The month we spent with Macarena was an amazing experience for us all, and I am thrilled that we took advantage of this opportunity! I am a firm believer that our children learn more from experience rather than schoolwork alone, and this was one that I hope my children benefitted from in many different ways.

Don Paige, Head of Upper School, reported, "We so enjoyed having the kids here and they quickly became part of the community."

Thank you to the Stenger and Epstein families for opening your homes to temporary Chargers and giving them the adventure of a lifetime! 

Shorecrest families also hosted 18 high school students from France in 2019, and had groups from Mexico and El Salvador visit Lower School and Middle School.

Shorecrest Preparatory School

5101 First Street Northeast
St Petersburg, FL 33703
Phone: (727) 522-2111  |  Fax: (727) 527-4191
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Shorecrest Preparatory School is a private, non-sectarian, coeducational, college preparatory day school for students preschool through high school, located in St. Petersburg, Florida.