Thoughts from Dr. Joe: The joys of hosting a foreign student

I never thought of myself as a citizen of the world. I was raised by men and women from the Greatest Generation who were definitively American. That was my inheritance.

Global citizenship refers to a political philosophy in which the core social, political, economic and environment realities of the world are viewed through a global lens, rather than a national, or local, one. This perspective is not new. Socrates said, “I am not an Athenian or a Greek, but a citizen of the world.”

Recently I shared a cup of coffee with Beverly DeLucia, a program leader with Education First, an international education company with more than 400 schools worldwide specializing in language training, educational travel, academic degree programs and cultural exchange. In 2006, under the auspices of Education First, DeLucia hosted a child from France.

“This experience changed my life,” she said. “I never looked at the world in the same way.”

DeLucia became an advocate of international travel and cultural exchange for children and since her immersion into the philosophy of the education company, she emphatically states, “I am a citizen of the world.”

This summer families in La Cañada hosted teens from various countries throughout Europe. This year we were fortunate to host Florine Borniambuc, a 15-year-old from France. The Puglias struck the jackpot with Florine. The day-to-day amazement seen in Florine's eyes gave me the impression that although the antiquated old world of Europe is enthralling, America is unique. Florine stole our hearts, becoming a member of our family. We have indeed established a global connection with France. We are also connected with Spain through Mar, a student we previously hosted.

Education First has a workable paradigm. Children are placed in the homes of volunteer families. They stay for a month and assimilate into the daily routines of American family life. Each morning they are taken to a central pick-up point. They spend time studying English, American history and American culture. In the afternoons they explore the wonders and sights of California, visiting beaches, communities and cultural events, Disneyland, Universal Studios and other places of interest. There's even a trip to San Francisco.

Besides providing a life-changing opportunity for a child from Europe, I enjoy being party to their excitement as they explore and learn about America. The simple subtleties of what we take for granted become exponential experiences for these children. Seeing my world through their eyes enabled me to see Los Angeles from a different perspective.

DeLucia said, “The kids will go back to their country and become ambassadors for America. Since most of the children are college-bound, they will become leaders of their communities and build a deeper connection between American and the world.”

I understand the essence of the epigraph that is displayed on our kitchen wall. It's a testimonial from Winston Churchill that reads, “We make a living from what we get; we make a life from what we give.” With a life of service, DeLucia walks the walk. She was a leader and commissioner for Boy Scouts and a national delegate for Girl Scouts. Her passions for the children under her care and supervision are noted. “I would step in front of a bus for one of my students,” she said.

She recruits host families throughout the foothill communities. This is not an easy sell. “I find families by the grace of God; it seems we are short and then, by a miracle, we're not,” she told me.

You might consider volunteering. It is a phenomenal experience to host an international child. The children become part of your family and you learn that humanity has more similarities than differences. Send her a note at

As DeLucia says, “When you host a child, you have the possibility of a relationship for life.”

JOE PUGLIA is a practicing counselor, a retired professor and a former officer in the Marines. Reach him at Visit his website at

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