One of my favorite parts about working at Adventure Nannies, is getting to know our friends in the nanny and travel industries. There are so many programs out there for people who want to work and travel– the options are endless. Our latest business crush is on Horizon Cultural Exchange. A program based in Denver that provides cultural exchange experiences for people interested in traveling to China. We sat down with the wonderful Lili Xue to learn more about this incredible program she leads.
Lili, what inspired you to start Horizon Cultural Exchange?
After graduating from university in 2007, I worked for a cultural exchange center in China for three years. My job was to help adventurous young people study and travel abroad. I was inspired by the program, and decided to try it myself. In 2010, I moved to Denver, CO to live with a host family for one year. I fell in love with Colorado and enrolled in a master’s program at DU. This experience, plus seven years working in cultural exchange programs, inspired me to launch my own company. Because I have first hand experience in every aspect of the home-stay process, Horizon Cultural Exchange has become one of the best ways to experience Chinese culture.
What attracts people to your program?
Our applicants are interested in international travel. They choose us because of our program benefits. We offer much more support to our travelers than other programs. Our weekly cultural and language activities are one of the many benefits that set us apart. Each week, we organize group activities with all participants to get out and explore their surroundings. All in all, we offer a sweeter, kinder overseas experience.
What do the applicants have in common?
Many of our participants are in child-care related fields. They are pre-school teachers, nannies, camp counselors, and teachers on holiday. They typically have an interest in Asian/Chinese culture, and would love to travel to China. I also find most of our applicants to be open-minded, outgoing, and adventurous.
What do participants take away from the experience when it’s over?
I would say inspiration, and a lasting relationship with the family they lived with. Also, a new and deeper understanding of Chinese culture and language.
What is the biggest challenge for them?
I would say, of course, culture shock and the obvious language barrier. We do our best to support our participants with these challenges, and encourage families and participants to set up easy lines of communication to stay in touch with their families in the United States. All of our families speak some level of English, so the initial language barrier is typically overcome within the first few days.
What are the families like?
Most of our families are upper-class Chinese families who are interested in exposing their children to native English speakers. Many of them have only one child, so the families see our travelers as honorary big sisters or brothers for their child. They often include the participant in family vacations, activities, and celebrations. They really become part of the family!
If our nannies are interested in participating, how would they apply?
Go to Horizon Cultural Exchange and apply online. Tell them Adventure Nannies sent you! If you have any questions, email Lili at firstname.lastname@example.org or Brandy at email@example.com!