Family Connections Program

This year, Fryeburg Academy’s international students received a warm welcome from local families who volunteered to host new students as part of FA’s new Family Connections Program. The program brings local families and international students together for support, cultural exchange, and an introduction to American culture. “I was all for getting involved,” said Andrea Macht (‘86). “It was a total blessing that Mia was from Germany. My children know the language and visit family in Germany once or twice a year.”
 
The Academy has enrolled international students from all over the world for 60 years. We know it can be overwhelming to arrive in the U.S. to study for the first time. To ease the transition, new students were paired with well-known local families. These families agreed to take students on special outings twice during the school year, to help celebrate their birthday, and attend athletic events and performances. The Academy also offered opportunities to meet including a mini-orientation at the beginning of the school year and a dessert gathering at the Fessenden House with Head of School Erin Mayo and her family in February.

Many families connected with their student by exploring the area. “We went on drives to see the beautiful scenery and apple picking at Pietree Orchard,” says Macht. Families also helped students adjust by taking them to get their hair cut or shopping for school supplies. “We helped Mia pick out skis and check out Cranmore before she joined the ski team,” continued Macht. “The milk is richer in Germany so we would also drop of milk from Sherman’s farm to remind her of home.”

Faculty and staff members volunteered too. “We learned to keep it simple,”said Mike Sakash, Arts Department Chair. “We really enjoyed just having dinner and playing a game together. It's been great for my kids. They’ve connected with Crystal and learned so much more about her life in China; more than they would have from school.” Not all participating families had school-age children, however. One student shared that visiting his host was reminiscent of spending time with his grandmother in Shanghai. Another couple followed their student’s lead, making space for him to study along with respite from the dorm. Families also learned that when a student was shy or reluctant to participate the best way to make them comfortable was to encourage them to bring a friend.

An unexpected outcome of the program is that parents have connected with each other, too. “I have a lot of pictures,” recounts Tara Pearce. “I take them to send to Dani’s mom. I know she is reassured that Dani has a local family connection.” The Pearce’s also found that dropping off surprises like a Valentine or homemade treat, helped seal their bond. And even though families were asked to commit only to one school year, many have created bonds that will last a lifetime. It's one more way that Fryeburg Academy and the local community offer a sense of belonging to all the students who come here to share in the Academy’s warm and nurturing environment.
 
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Fryeburg Academy

FRYEBURG ACADEMY
745 Main Street
Fryeburg, ME 04037
p. (207) 935-2001      
f.  (207) 935-5013      
admissions@fryeburgacademy.org
Fryeburg Academy is an independent boarding and day school, serving grades 9-12 and postgraduate. We invite you to explore our site and learn how students from around the globe find their place in the world through our exceptional academic, art, and athletic programs.