“I like to join a little bit of everything. That is just my personality.”

Such a true statement from Lingli, or Shelly, who arrived on the PSE program from China last year as an 11th grader, and will be graduating from high school this spring.  In the two years she has been in the U.S., Shelly has formed a close bond with her host family and become extremely involved in her high school community in York, Pennsylvania.

An ambassador for exchange students at her school, an International Representative for the Student Senate Committee, a member of the Track & Field and Girls’ Varsity Basketball teams, as well as a Saxophonist in her high school band and Soprano in Honors Chorus, Shelly really is involved in just about everything.

“I must say, before I joined the team, I never realized how much I love basketball and how tight and amazing friendships a sport could give to you,” Shelly shares.

You might think it would be hard for one to keep up on schoolwork with so many extra-curricular activities, however Shelly achieves excellent grades.

“Studying is also a big part of school activity as a student. I am trying to maintain my GPA at 4.0, and showing a good influence on other students as an exchange student and an international representative.”

She is currently in the process of applying to colleges, and adds, “I could not get the grades I have right now without the help from my friends and teachers inside classes and outside classes.” She hopes to get accepted to either University of Pennsylvania or Cornell University, and plans to major in Business or Science, and to eventually pursue a career in Law.

“Shelly has been a joy to have as part of the PSE program in the York area, ” says her PSE Local Coordinator, Sarah. “She has such a bubbly personality and is always trying to get everyone excited about school, sports and life in general.”

Sarah explains that Shelly has really taken advantage of every opportunity that has come her way during the program, and has encouraged other international students to become more involved.

Heather, Shelly’s host mother, shares that her family has immensely enjoyed hosting Shelly over the years. She describes Shelly as a “pleasant, outgoing and happy” individual who has become “a very influential student in her school and among her peers.” Heather and her family have valued the cultural exchange aspect of hosting an international student and have formed many fond memories with Shelly over the last two years.

“We have tried so many different foods, gone on multiple vacations together, joined a gym together as a family, attended church together, gone camping, visited colleges, had numerous meals with extended family members, and had game nights with friends.”

Heather explains that Shelly has become another member of their family and will be greatly missed once she leaves. She and her family plan to keep in touch with Shelly after graduation and are excited to watch her continued success in life.

Of PSE, Shelly sings the praises of the program’s close oversight. She enjoys the monthly meetings between Local Coordinators, host families and students. “I think it is a great way to maintain a strong connection with the students, agency, host family and biological family,” she shares.

“Walk slow first, then run when you feel comfortable,” offers Shelly as advice to new international students. Though she acknowledges that the experience can be scary at first, she encourages students to become involved in as many aspects of their school and local community as possible.

Shelly also stresses the importance of good communication, and advises students:

“Talk to your host parents and try to understand each other. When you meet any problem, talk to your Local Coordinator and ask for help. Remember just because you are here by yourself that does not mean you are alone.”

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