Foreign Exchange Artists — A Guest Blog by Diane Knetzer, for Ayusa


“Columbia is the kind of community that is the heart and soul of international exchange.” — Diane Knetzer

Since we often refer to any of the various forms of visual or performing artistic expression as a “universal language” perhaps  it is not surprising  to find that many of the international teens who choose to experience educational and cultural  exchange are also artistically talented.  Travelers and artists share the ability to dream and to think “outside the box.”

Bright, creative young minds  that are curious, observant, imaginative, and open to new ideas are naturally drawn to both travel and the arts. Like artists, travelers tend to be intuitive, resourceful, and innovative. This may account for the number of gifted young dancers, singers, instrumentalists,  actors, visual artists, filmmakers, and budding poets and novelists who apply to travel and study internationally with exchange student organizations each year.

One such organization is Ayusa, a not for profit that has dealt in quality educational and cultural exchange since 1981. Annually, Ayusa welcomes approximately 1150 students from more 60 different countries worldwide to its program,  including many young artists–and 2012-13 will be no exception.

Columbia is the kind of community that is the heart and soul of international exchange. It offers an authentic slice of American life for international visitors–with one important distinction: arts opportunities abound.  Few American cities of Columbia’s size can boast the number of dance companies, theater groups, art studios, choral societies, orchestras, writers’ workshops and more that comprise the arts community here. Columbia’s active arts scene, with its blend of professional and amateur arts organizations is rich in  inspiration and opportunities,  and provides an ideal setting for artistically gifted exchange students.

If you are an arts professional or teacher who would like to mentor a promising student, if you are a parent nurturing a young artist of your own, if you enjoy helping and encouraging young people to achieve excellence in their intellectual and artistic pursuits, or if you simply appreciate and support the arts, your family may be a perfect match for an artistically gifted exchange student.

Exchange students arrive in August for a semester or academic year program. They are 15 to 18 years old and have their own spending money and medical insurance. They speak English, but want to improve. Volunteer host families provide meals,  a bed, and a nurturing home environment. Host families may select their own student, or call upon staff to  assist with their choice. Experienced, dedicated Ayusa staff are always on call and work closely with participants on an ongoing basis to promote a rewarding experience for all.

Both artists and arts lovers know that without growth and experimentation — without taking some chances — the arts would cease to exist. Exchange students from countries as diverse as Albania, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Italy, Japan, Korea, Kosovo, Liberia, Macedonia, Mexico, Montenegro, Netherlands, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Serbia, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, and Yemen know this, too, and they would like the opportunity to learn and grow along with you.

For information about how you can host an artistically talented exchange student, please visit or contact Diane Knetzer, regional director of Ayusa in SC at  (803) 781-4727/


About Jasper

What Jasper Said is the blogging arm of Jasper – The Word on Columbia Arts, a new written-word oriented arts magazine that serves artists and arts lovers in the Columbia, SC area and its environs in four ways: Via Print Media – Jasper is a bi-monthly magazine, releasing in print six times per year in September, November, January, March, May & July, on the 15th of each month. Jasper covers the latest in theatre and dance, visual arts, literary arts, music, and film as well as arts events and happenings; Via Website – Jasper is an interactive website complete with a visual arts gallery, messages from Jasper, an arts events calendar that is updated several times daily, bite-sized stories on arts events, guest editorials, local music, dance & theatre videos, community surveys, and more; Via Blog – What Jasper Said -- you're reading this now -- is a daily blog featuring a rotating schedule of bloggers from the Jasper staff as well as guest bloggers from throughout the arts community; Via Twitter – Jasper Advises is a method of updating the arts community on arts events, as they happen, with more than a half dozen active tweeters who live, work, and play inside the arts community everyday ~ Jasper Advises keeps the arts community abreast of what not to miss, what is happening when it is happening, and where to be to experience it first hand.
This entry was posted in General and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *