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The Journal Gazette

  • Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Jill Bonin, local coordinator for International Cultural Exchange Services , hangs out with exchange students at Leo High School last month.

Monday, September 03, 2018 1:00 am

Education Notebook

Exchange students find homes

Local coordinator had life changed after becoming host family

Chloe Cameron | For The Journal Gazette

Like most other people, Jill Bonin used to look at a map and simply see the names of countries. That changed when she hosted her first exchange student.

Looking at a map, Bonin now sees faces – the youth she has met from various countries through her work with exchange students.

“Countries aren't just a place on the map anymore,” Bonin said. The nonprofit International Cultural Exchange Services in July announced that Bonin would be the new local coordinator for the Fort Wayne area.

Bonin hosted her first high school exchange student 15 years ago. She and her family are hosting their 13th student this year. Bonin can now put faces to Korea, Spain, Norway, Brazil, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Ecuador.

Bonin considers those students family, although she has four of her own children still in school. Being a host family has changed their lives.

Now, when her children see international news, they wonder what one of their previous host siblings is feeling.

Her college-age son had a resident assistant and guessed he was from Ecuador after seeing his name.

The hosting experience inspired Bonin to begin working in the cultural exchange industry nine years ago with International Student Exchange. The organization's work is similar to International Cultural Exchange Services.

With Student Exchange, Bonin worked as a local coordinator for a year and was then a regional adviser for eight years.

Cultural Exchange Services founder John Crist has also been on the board of directors of the Council on Standards for International Education Travel.

When an opportunity arose, Bonin moved from Student Exchange to Exchange Services.

Bonin said working with Exchange Services employees is enjoyable because of the team atmosphere.

“They're in it for the right reasons,” Bonin said.

Tiffany Adams, a regional director for Exchange Services, said the employees are committed to ensuring students have good host families.

Adams said Bonin is a good fit because “she has a passion for kids.”

Bonin loves spending time with so many high school students. She is able to interact with families and attend school events. In addition, she is able to continue learning about cultures around the world.

So far this year, Bonin has matched nine international students with families in the area. She also oversees nearly 30 matches.

It can be difficult when students are struggling with their host families, schools, or homesickness, but those cases are rare.

Bonin hopes she can connect as many families and host students as possible because of the opportunity to learn about other cultures.


• Antwerp Local Schools partnered with Discovery Education to launch a districtwide professional learning initiative called STEM Foundations. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. Educators will learn new ways to build powerful STEM learning environments that nurture student learning and how to better integrate the Discovery Education Streaming Plus digital content service, which was introduced to district classrooms in 2014. Discovery Education grew out of the global media company Discovery Inc., whose networks include Discovery Channel and Animal Planet.

Future City

• The deadline to register for the Future City Competition is Oct. 31 at The contest asks Indiana middle school students to respond to the theme, “Powering Our Future,” by designing innovative power grids for future cities that can withstand and quickly recover from the impacts of a natural disaster. The 18th annual Indiana Future City regional final will be held Jan. 26 at Purdue University Fort Wayne. Regional winners will face off at the finals in Washington, D.C., in February.


Greg Rehberg, '74, joined Concordia Lutheran High School's development team Aug. 21 as director of alumni and donor relations. The position is a merger of the director of alumni relations and annual events and the director of annual giving.


• The Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education has extended accreditation to Manchester University's Doctor of Pharmacy program through June 30, 2022, the maximum extension possible. The program is accepting its first international students this year at the Fort Wayne campus.


• Purdue University won the top prize in Pioneer Institute's 2018 Better Government Competition, which sought ideas about how to make higher education more affordable and effective. Purdue has implemented an alternative financial program called Back a Boiler that uses income share agreements. The college will be celebrated at a September awards gala in Boston.


• Trine University's annual Alumni & Friends Scholarship Golf Outing raised $94,147.

• Questa Education Foundation awarded $117,000 through the Venette M. and Mabel M. Sites Scholarship to Allen County public high school graduates. Individual awards ranged from $500 to $2,500. Recipients were Connor Burgess, Sydney Ulrey, Anthony Ohneck, Logan Jester, Stone Miguel, Kelsiey Cicora, Madison Kilgus, Cassidy Forbing, Alexandra Harvey, Caleb DeLieto, Natalie Grose, and Victoria Grose of Carroll; Benjamin Sendo, Nicole Winans and Katherine Watson of East Allen University; Branson Dossen, Kimberlie Kline, Veronica Hare, Rozlynn Everhart and Nicole Rothgeb of Heritage; Courtney McGrew, Rebekah Zvers, Lindley Kistler, Scott Creech and Luis Rodriguez Perez of Homestead; Rebecca Kimball, Hannah Fowerbaugh, Jordan Eldridge, Rebecca Lessig, Morgan Sanderson, Mackenzie Joefreda, Eduardo Cruz, Ian Thompson and Logan Sagstetter of Leo; Adam Hoffer, Anika Hoffer, Zachary Watson and Matthew Mensing of New Haven; Logan Ankney, Priscilla Baltazard, Isabelle Harrison and Soe San of North Side; Joshua Mahon, Matthew Mast, Jailyn Krantz, Juan Gonzalez-Rangel, Caitline Southern, Kristen Borntreger and Lejla Hrustic of Northrop; Mariah Thomas, Heidi Schneeman, Jennifer Peppler, Miranda Durnell, Maria Barrera, Naomi Vanderleest, Rylee Marks, Taylor Davis, Adam Veeley, Jacob Claycomb, Carly Geier and Catherine Birch of Snider; Katherine Sheppard and Kendra Shadle of South Side; Jillian Findlay and Kyle Pessefall of Wayne; Sara Livengood, Alyssa Vance and Daymon Marlowe of New Tech Academy at Wayne; and Alyssa Garver, Rebekah Dignal, Loren Hahn, Paige Stutzman and Ashley Osborn of Woodlan.

Students and parents who have a favorite teacher can nominate the individual for Teacher Honor Roll. Send nominations to The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email

To submit an item, send a typed release from the school or organization to Education Notebook, The Journal Gazette, 600 W. Main St., Fort Wayne, IN 46802; fax 461-8893 or email at least two weeks before the desired publication date.