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Brenda Padilla Ericksen

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Brenda is the founder of GAP Academy, where J-1 and F-1 students gain the knowledge, skills and attitudes they need to thrive in the USA. She provides cultural diversity and intercultural competence training for US exchange programs, sending organizations worldwide and personnel at multinational companies. Brenda has a Spanish Degree from Western Washington University and has been immersed in cultural diversity for over 30 years as a teacher, journalist and corporate trainer. She is from Seattle, Washington and has lived and worked in Spain for 30 years where she has raised four daughters. She is a former international student (Spain & Norway), host mother (Thailand, France, Austria & USA), and the mother of daughters who exchanged to France, Canada, USA, South Korea & Nepal.
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Recent Posts

It's more fascinating to host an exchange student if you know where your student is coming from, culturally speaking. This also...

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Tags: Exchange Student, Youth Exchange, Host an exchange student,

How can you prepare to host a student from Spain? Take a whirlwind tour of Spanish culture from the perspective of a teenager. If...

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Tags: Cultural Exchange

Years ago, when I had to say goodbye to my host family, there were so many mixed feelings. I felt sad, but I was aching to go...

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Tags: Host Families

Empathy can make or break your family dynamics. Boosting empathy improves relationships, communication, teamwork, kindness,...

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Tags: Host Families, Exchange Student, Reasons to host,

My year abroad in Spain was supposed to be the big adventure of my life. After that, I planned to settle down in my comfort zone:...

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Tags: Study Abroad

Adapting to a new culture is a complex process. It can be exciting, but also overwhelming and intimidating at times. How you can...

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Tags: Cultural Exchange, cultural understanding, cultural immersion

Is hosting an exchange student everything you hoped it would be?

You are halfway through a story that you are writing together...

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Tags: Host Families, Cultural Exchange, Exchange Student,

You signed up to host a student, but what if it’s not working out? Or what if your life changes and hosting is no longer...

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Tags: Host Families, Youth Exchange

The honeymoon is over when homesickness hits. Your high school exchange student was so excited to get on that plane and fly into...

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Tags: Culture Shock, Homesickness

Students from Spain can earn credit back home for their year in the United States, but only if they follow meet Spain's...

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Ana from Spain was fresh off the plane when culture shock hit her like a rock. “Why doesn’t my host mother cook more often?” she...

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Tags: Cross-cultural training for teenagers

What might your typical American life look like through the eyes of a student from France? In this month’s survey, we discovered...

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Tags: Cultural Exchange, Exchange Student, Host an exchange student,

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