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How internationality can be experienced in a company

Promoting intercultural education for young people and building personal bridges between employees worldwide – this is what international companies can achieve with the CoFam's in-house holiday exchange programme. A few testimonials show exactly how this works.

An international exchange and personal relationships between employee families at different locations bring cosmopolitanism and tolerance to life and are a valuable contribution to the future of young people.

"The first thing I want to say is: 'just do it!'", says Sina from Hamburg, 15, after her stay in the USA with a girl whose mother works for the same employer as Sina's father. With the company-internal exchange program, employees' children spent two to four weeks at one of the respective company's worldwide locations in 2022, organised by CoFam, the Company Family Program.

Getting to know families and companies abroad

For the young people, who are between 14 and 18 years old, it is a great adventure: the challenge of a foreign language and a new culture. They encounter everyday life and family life in the other country with a lot of curiosity and openness: "When I got off that nine-hour flight, it was like I had walked into a new universe. I had never been out of the US before then, so it was much different than I was used to. What I saw of this new universe was astounding." (Attie: USA-Germany).

There was also a lot to discover for Yara (16) from Germany, as she writes about her visit to the USA: "But even the most basic things, which may seem boring to some, became quite the experience for me. Like grocery shopping, or a walk over the local farmers market. Some things were familiar, yes, but other things were totally new."

EXPATS CoFAM1Lennart from Hamburg and Sam from Quebec visited each other in the summer of 2022 and spent a few weeks together with the family of the respective other.

Young people may also realise that things that they think are common may not be as popular everywhere else. Isaac (14), who visited a family in France, reports: "Peanut butter. I had never known that peanut butter was 'American'. I thought that peanut butter is so likable that most people use it all the time all around the world." He then baked peanut butter chocolate chip biscuits to the delight of his host family.

The exchange partners and their families already know each other a little at the time of the trip: as soon as it is decided who will be travelling with whom, the families are in contact via email, WhatsApp, telephone, or video conference. This way, not only the children but also the company's employees get to know each other across location and borders.

And at the end of the exchange, most are sure that the friendships that have developed will stay. Baden (18) writes: "My most rewarding experience was meeting the family and hanging out with them. I was welcomed into the family like I was one of their own children. I can safely say that I have family in Germany." Gracie also felt very welcome: "By the time we could finally meet, it felt like I was greeted by an old friend. I was so welcomed in Germany. The people there are so kind and understanding. My host family were some of the kindest and most accepting people I know. I miss them all a lot."

EXPATS CoFAM2Lennart from Hamburg and Sam from Quebec visited each other in the summer of 2022 and spent a few weeks together with the family of the respective other.

Great added value for the staff

The participating families greatly appreciate the opportunity their company offers them with the program. Because their children gain valuable intercultural experience, employees from different locations get to know each other and their children make friends for life. And so, the testimonials read again and again: "The entire experience was amazing for our family. Thank you for the opportunity!" or "Overall this experience was one of the coolest things I have ever done in my life. I couldn't be more grateful for it. Thank you!". And perhaps these young people are the expatriates of tomorrow.

EXPATS CoFAM3Lilou from Hamburg in summer 2022 with host siblings in Chicago, USA.

International health insurance for young people

Of course, fun is not to be missed during a stay abroad. But to make sure you do not miss out on fun, you should start planning early. In addition to questions about financing and suitable accommodation, you should also think about suitable health insurance for your stay abroad.

Why is health insurance abroad important? It's simple: firstly, the European Health Card (the backside of the health insurance card) is only valid to a limited extent in EU countries and not at all outside the EU, and secondly, valid health insurance is often a prerequisite for being allowed to enter the host country as a foreigner.

How the BDAE can help you

Here at BDAE, we are commited to helping everyone travel abroad safely, including young people. This is why we offer health insurance abroad for a longer stay abroad at low costs.

You can find our different insurance offers for private clients here.

For more informations, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our experts :

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About the programme

CoFam - The Company Family Program has been organising in-house exchange programmes for employees' children in international companies since 2012. Owner Indre Bermann has more than 25 years of experience and expertise in international exchange programmes and intercultural learning and she herself has lived and worked abroad with her family for several years.

More information can be found here.

This article is from the 1/2023 issue of the magazine "Life Abroad".

The magazine is published four times a year free of charge with many informative articles on foreign topics.

It is published by the BDAE, the expert for protection abroad.