Category: Uncategorized

February Student Blog

If you haven’t noticed… it’s February! The shortest month of the year. It also marks the 6-month mark of your exchange experience. But a short month doesn’t mean an unimportant month! February always starts with an odd American tradition called Groundhog Day on February 2. Punxsutawney Phil who lives in Pennsylvania is a famous groundhog that is believed to predict the start of the spring season. Stemming from a German superstition, if a groundhog emerges from its burrow in the ground and sees his shadow, then winter will last for 6 more weeks; if not, then an early spring is coming. Despite being disproved by science, the tradition continues with many Americans watching what groundhog Phil does on February 2. And in case you’re wondering, Phil didn’t see his shadow in 2024, so spring is coming soon!

The past couple weeks also had us celebrating several other classic American experiences. Did you catch them all? Of course, there was the Super Bowl, where more than one third of Americans watched the exciting face-off between the San Francisco 49ers and the Kansas City Chiefs. Even if American football is not your interest, I hope that at least you enjoyed the snacks that come with the big game and watched the funny commercials! Then we jumped into Valentine’s Day, the day Americans spend $25,000,000,000 on 500 million cards, and 50 million cards and gifts are given to “special loved ones,” including our pets, friends, and family members. And lastly, we had a 3-day holiday weekend to celebrate President’s Day, commemorating America’s iconic presidents: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. 

February is a great month to review the goals that you set for this school year. There’s still time to focus on improving a course grade, try a new hobby or activity, or befriend a classmate. Ecclesiastes 3:1 says, “He (GOD) has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” Remember, counting time is not as important as making the time count! 

“In the tapestry of time, we are each woven with purpose.” 

Students, reach out to me on WeChat to let me know how you celebrated this February!

January Student Blog

Happy 2024! I hope the new year has started well for you. What if you could earn 1 year of college for free? Most high school students are familiar with the College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) exams, but do you know about CLEP exams that earn you college credit? CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program, and these exams are administered by the College Board. Passing a CLEP exam earns you college credit that is accepted at 2,900+ colleges.  

The College Board offers CLEP exams for 34 courses, covering social sciences, history, languages, business, sciences, mathematics, composition, and literature. CLEP exams are proctored (observed) and can be taken at CLEP centers or taken remotely. Depending on the course, exams are multiple-choice and take between 90-120 minutes. Most exam results are given immediately after completion.  

Important things to keep in mind when taking CLEP exams: 

  1. CLEP exams (unlike Advanced Placement exams) can only be taken in the United States. 
  2. The passing score to earn college credit varies by college/university.  
  3. Students may retake the same course exam only once every three months. 

Earn Free College Credit? 

Modern States Education Alliance is a non-profit organization dedicated to making high quality college education free of cost and accessible to any person who seeks it. Modern States has partnered with edX, a leading online learning platform founded by Harvard and MIT. Known as “Freshman Year for Free,” Modern States offers free, high quality online courses taught by college professors from elite institutions that prepare you for virtually all of the major AP and CLEP exams to help you fulfill general education requirements at university.

Each course includes online lectures, quizzes, and tests. Digital textbooks will be provided free of charge. Once you work through the course curriculum at your own pace, a free course CLEP exam code can be requested from Modern States, allowing you to take the exam for free. With so many courses to choose from, you can pick the courses that you are interested in! 

Let’s make 2024 the year you start earning college credit for FREE! 

Students, reach out to me on WeChat with any questions!

December Student Blog

Merry Christmas! Schools are closing for the holiday, trees are decorated, stockings are hung, gifts are being wrapped, and families will be coming together for a celebratory dinner. If it’s your first American Christmas, we hope you enjoy many fun activities and traditions over the next several weeks.  

In our house, a favorite Christmas tradition is attending Christmas Eve service at church on December 24. Growing up, the church I attended always had a candlelight service for Christmas Eve. The church would be decorated with lights and Christmas trees, and we would sing Christmas carols. My siblings and I would eagerly wait for the last song, when the lights went down, and finally, we could light our candles, passing the flame down the aisle while singing, “Oh Holy Night.” While we were fascinated watching the flames and trying not to burn ourselves with the dripping wax, I’m pretty sure our parents were nervously watching to make sure all of us kids didn’t let the flames touch the pews! 

After the church service, we would go home and open the gifts inside our Christmas stockings hanging over the fireplace. Our family always liked to put practical gifts into the stockings…like lotion, a book, or even deodorant! We always knew the last item at the bottom of the stocking would be an orange. It was such a joyful time being together as a family, appreciating the small things of life.  

Now that I’m grown and have a family of my own, we are continuing the same Christmas Eve tradition, going to our Christmas church service and opening our Christmas stocking presents. This year, on December 24, our family of 4 will have one more join us as we are hosting a student, too. We are excited to share our family’s traditions with her, especially the joy of opening those little presents that we hide in our Christmas stockings. 

My prayer for you in this Christmas season is that you find joy in the small things and build memories that you will carry with you like I did with my family. Jesus came to earth to bring us eternal joy so this Christmas, may you experience the joy of the Christ-mas season with your host family. 

Students, reach out to me on WeChat to tell me what you are most looking forward to this Christmas!

November Student Blog

This month, we give thanks for the many good things God has given to all of us. The very first American Thanksgiving took place in 1621 as a 3-day harvest celebration. With more than 100 attendees, colonists and Native Americans came together to share food and thanks after a very difficult winter, where half of the settlers died from disease and starvation. While turkey was not on that first Thanksgiving menu, there was fish, deer, shellfish, vegetables like cabbage, pumpkin, and potatoes, as well as cranberries, walnuts, and grapes. Although there was pumpkin, no one ate pumpkin pie as the settlers did not have access to butter, wheat flour, or an oven to bake the pie! We remember this first Thanksgiving that in good times and in difficult times, there is always much to be thankful for. 

“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.” 

Psalm 107:1

Students, reach out to me on WeChat to tell me what you are grateful for this holiday season!

October Student Blog

Dear AHLI Students,

Welcome to Fall! Unless you live in Florida or California, you will have noticed the cooling weather, changing leaves, and lots of pumpkins popping up in your neighborhood! Hopefully, you have settled into your school routine, and even joined a new club or sport. You may have also realized by now that American high school life is all about balance; students must balance their schoolwork, extracurricular activities, social time with friends, and quality time with family.  

As schools move into the second quarter, it’s a good time to pause and see how you are managing your different responsibilities. While academics should be a priority for you as a student, it’s important to remember that keeping a balance in all areas of your life is essential to stay healthy, mentally and physically. It’s easy to become overly focused on one area and neglect activities and relationships that will help develop you as a young adult. A healthy person balances all the areas below without overindulging in one area more than the others.  

Key Areas to Examine: 

  1. SLEEP: One of the most overlooked areas in a teenager’s life is the benefit of sleep. When sleeping, the brain builds new neural pathways, increasing memory. Growth hormone levels are increased, repairing tissues and building muscle. 
  2. FRIENDSHIPS: God created us to have relationship with Him and each other. Building relationships with your host family and students at school takes conscious effort. It means you must go out of your way (and comfort zone) to interact with others. The best way to start is by being intentional to ask someone a question about themselves! 
  3. HOBBIES: What do you do in your free time? You need an activity that helps you relax and de-stress. Whether your hobby is a solitary or group activity, finding something you enjoy builds positive mental health.  
  4. EXERCISE: Most people think exercise means playing a sport, but even just a quick walk around your neighborhood each day can clear your mind and keep your body at a healthy weight.  
  5. ACADEMICS: Most international students are surprised to learn that homework in America is an important part of their overall grade. Assignments are not just for practice! It’s critical to give enough time each day to review and complete all your schoolwork. Turning assignments in late will negatively impact your grade more than a poor test score. 
  6. SERVICE: Life is about more than just you. You have a lot to be thankful for in your life. Sharing your time, talents and money, not only helps others but benefits you by expanding your worldview. 


Tiffanee M. Wright, MA, MPH | Executive Director
AHLI – International Education and Homestay

Students, reach out to me on WeChat to tell me what you will do to create a better balance in your life!

September Student Blog

Dear AHLI Students,

For many of you, you’ve already completed 1 month of school. How was the start of school? Was it easier than you expected or more difficult? No matter how much you prepare before your arrival, the adjustment to a new routine with the start of a school year can be different than expected. The staff of AHLI, including your Coordinator, are here to help you when you need a listening ear or have questions about American school or homestay. 

This month, I’d like to talk about an important aspect of American culture: Gratitude. Gratitude is the readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness. It is an essential American value, which Americans display with frequent, friendly words and gestures.  

Ask yourself, in what circumstances do people show gratitude in your culture? Is it typical to say thank you after small interactions such as buying a snack at a 7-Eleven convenience store? Would you say thank you to your teacher after an interesting lesson in the classroom? Or how about saying thanks when your mom prepares the family dinner? In the United States, Americans show appreciation by saying thank you not just for big things, like being given a birthday gift, but also for small, everyday acts of kindness, such as holding the door open for someone else to enter, getting a ride home from sports practice, or washing the dishes. In American culture, we are extra-expressive in saying thanks… in fact, you probably can’t say or show it enough! 

In your country, how would you show gratitude to your family members? It’s important to take a minute and think about how you can demonstrate gratitude to your host family who has welcomed you into their family. To help you be appreciative “American style,” let’s look at 3 easy ways to show gratitude.  

  1. Say it: Say thank you often and consistently. You can also express appreciation by saying, “I really appreciate it when you…” pick me up from school, help me with my laundry, or take me to the store.
  2. Write it: Americans love sending and receiving cards! You can buy a card for all sorts of occasions in the United States, including thank you and appreciation cards. Many Americans keep such cards as good memories and to show friendship with those around them. Surprise a member of your host family by writing a simple thank you note. You don’t need to mail it… just leave it at a place where they will find it. 
  3. Show it: Gratitude is not just an emotion; it’s also an action! Americans show their appreciation by helping each other. When you see one person setting the table for a meal, jump in and help with the task! If you notice that the trash can is full, empty it! After returning from the store, offer to carry the bags into the house. There are a million ways that you can show thanks to your host family!  

This week, find 2 ways that you can say, write, or show your appreciation to your host family. Your family will appreciate it, and you will be on your way to adapting to American Culture! 

Also to all of our Asian students and friends, Happy Mid-Autumn Festival!


Tiffanee M. Wright, MA, MPH | Executive Director
AHLI – International Education and Homestay

If you’d like to talk more on how you are feeling or ways you are trying to stay healthy, find me on WeChat.

Welcome AHLI Students!

It’s time for a new school year! We are excited for you to start a new year, with new opportunities for new friends, new learnings, and of course, new experiences. On behalf of AHLI, I welcome you to embrace the “new” this year. At times it will feel uncomfortable, but the rewards of trying something new can outweigh the risks. To excel this year, I encourage you to set a goal to focus on. Whether it is your first year or your fourth year with AHLI, we are here to encourage you and cheer you on to be the best you can be. 

New beginnings give us a chance to have a fresh start. We usually say, it’s a “clean slate.” What’s a slate? It’s like a chalkboard that you can write on and then erase if a mistake is made. Last year’s mistakes, hurts, challenges, and problems are wiped away, and the slate is clean for you to start again. Sometimes wiping the slate clean also means letting go of the times when you were hurt or disappointed by someone else.  

The Bible tells us in the book of Psalms, “Clean the slate, God, so we can start the day fresh! Keep me from stupid sins, from thinking I can take over your work; Then I can start this day sun-washed, scrubbed clean of the grime of sin.” God gives us a new opportunity for a new start each day. Your host family, Coordinator, and teachers are all ready and willing to help you make this year a great success.  

We believe that with the right attitude and determination, you are capable of accomplishing much this year. To celebrate all types of accomplishments, AHLI awards a certificate and Amazon gift card each month to a different AHLI Student of the Month. We look for students who try new things, like a sport or participating with their host families, or just being a kind person. I look forward to hearing about your many achievements this year.

I pray that you will have a great year! 


Tiffanee M. Wright, MA, MPH | Executive Director
AHLI – International Education and Homestay

Students, reach out to me on WeChat to tell me a goal of yours for the new school year!

May Student Blog

The final month of school has arrived. There may be some of you who have been counting down the days of school since January, and these last weeks can’t pass by fast enough. For others, you may be feeling a twinge of sadness as an important year of cultural exchange is coming to an end. As you begin your round of summer goodbyes, I hope you can take a moment and reflect back on this school year. 

What were your highlights of the year? 

  • What accomplishment are you most proud of? Did you try a new club, sport or activity? In your academics, was there a test, report, or presentation that represented your best work? 

What was the greatest challenge you faced?  

  • Was it learning English quickly enough? Forming new friendships? Staying involved and engaged with your host family? 

What relationships did you focus on this year?  

  • Did you grow a deeper friendship with a host sibling? Feel you bonded with one or two friends at school? 

Hopefully, the first question was easy to answer. Without a doubt, there is something (and probably many things) that you feel were successful this year. Whether your accomplishment was publicly recognized or it was a victory you celebrated quietly, recognize that you made strides forward in becoming a better you. But undoubtedly, you also had challenges throughout the year. Whether it was your last year here, your first year, or even your only year in the U.S., you can take what you learned through those challenges and remind yourself that troubles come and go, and you are able to rise above these difficulties.  

Perhaps the most important of the questions is that of the relationships you invested in. Good and bad times come and go, just as good grades and bad grades, but what lasts are the social connections that have been invested in. It is my hope that the friendships you have developed with your classmates, host family, teachers and Coordinators will last long into the future. Tennessee Williams, a famous American playwright, once wrote, “Time doesn’t take away from friendship, neither does separation.” As you transition to the next stage, may you look back on this school year fondly, full of gratefulness and growth.  


Tiffanee M. Wright, MA, MPH | Executive Director
AHLI – International Education and Homestay

Students, reach out to me on WeChat to tell me a favorite memory from this past year!

Student of the Month


Devin is a junior at Elizabethtown Area High School, where he is involved in the school musical, choir, student council, tennis team, and school newspaper. He has proven himself to be a dedicated student and is known to go out of the way for his friends. He has been working hard to improve his English and broaden his vocabulary. We are proud of you Devin! Keep up the great work!

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