Tuesday Jun 12 2012
Love of all things international is her passion
By: Menka Belgal, Telegraph Correspondent
Julie Brown matches host families with students from around the world, who visit the United States over the summer for about three weeks, as part of EF Educational Homestay Programs. The host family can also join the student on some of their field trips to places like San Francisco and Los Angeles. She said she is always looking for families to host students which she says is a fun, enjoyable and fantastic learning experience for both the host family and the student. How did you get involved with EF Educational Homestay? When one door closes, sometimes two doors open. After being laid off from Mercy San Juan Medical Center as their Child Passenger Safety Coordinator in 2009, I had time to ponder my passions in life. One of those was traveling and learning about other cultures. On a whim, I answered an ad in Craig?s list and was hired by EF Educational Homestay Programs (EHP) where I am now the site director for the Folsom International Program. I have been doing this summer program for three years and have learned so much. We have over 100 teenage students that come to the area each summer for about three weeks from different countries to learn about the American way of life and improve their English. Our mission is to break down barriers of language, culture, and geography. What do you love most about your job? I love meeting the wonderful families that volunteer to host and seeing the amazement on the faces of the students when we take the first trip to San Francisco and walk the Golden Gate Bridge. Our students attend school in Folsom and go on fun local adventures in the afternoon. I hear the most amazing stories from my host families about the connection they make with their student and of course there are always tears when the students leave after their short summer stay. How can people learn more about the Homestay Int?l Student Program? If you want to learn more or host this summer, they can call me at (916) 300-5721 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is www.ef.com/ehp. The second door that opened to me also fits my philosophy and passion for protecting the environment. About a year ago I was hired by California Clothing Recyclers, LLC who are not only environmentally green, but also want to give back to the community. As their fundraising coordinator, I have the opportunity to work with non-profits, sports teams, schools and other organizations that want to raise funds in an easy, environmentally friendly way. They hold a used clothing drive and we collect the clothes, pay the organization for them, and then bale and ship them to developing countries worldwide to be re-used and or recycled. For more information please go to our website at californiaclothing.net What were you doing earlier? After graduating from Chico State, I worked in residential care for severely emotionally disturbed teens as a counselor for many years and after moving here landed a job at UC Davis Trauma Prevention where I followed a passion for Child Passenger Safety. When my grant ended, I worked for two years at the UC Davis Cancer Center on a Palliative Care grant helping cancer patients cope with treatment and the disease. I eventually ended up at Mercy San Juan Medical Center coordinating the Child Passenger Safety program for Hmong, Russian and Hispanic populations. What are some of the most interesting things that have happened to you? When I was in high school, my mom ? whose favorite book was Michener?s ?The Drifters? ? thought our family should rent a van and camp through Europe. This included our family of six, and my mom?s friend. Europe was different during the ?70s with much less English spoken. We managed to get lost at least once a day and being ignorant of the metric system, tried to drive the van under a bridge in Germany where we scraped the tiny pop-up air vent right off the top. I did develop a love a travel and studied for a year in Sweden while in college where I took some side trips, met my German relatives for the first time and saw some of Europe on my terms. In 2001 I toured New Zealand with 26 rugby players and coaches on a bus. My son played and my husband coached rugby so we decided to make it a family trip. Watching the local teams do the Maori war dance, the Haka, before a rugby game is an experience I?ll never forget. The entire team lines up on the field, faces in a mean grimace, slapping their bodies in rhythm while chanting in Maori. In 2007 when my daughter was studying in Australia, we went diving in the Great Barrier Reef. On the dive boat after dinner, the cook threw the leftovers overboard and the dive master told us to get our gear on so we could swim with the sharks. When my daughter threw down the challenge I had to go for it. Do you have a favorite movie? My favorite movie is ?City Slickers? because I?ve always had a fantasy of going on a cattle drive. I think in a past life I was a cowpoke. What hobbies do you enjoy? I love traveling and reading a good book with a pile of cheese and crackers by my side, scuba diving, and hiking. Tell us about your family. I?ve been married to my husband Tom, for 32 years and we raised our son, Derek, and daughter Kellie, here. My husband is enjoying his recent retirement from Federal Probation and my son lives in Maui and my daughter in San Francisco. We love visiting them both and they too, have been bitten by the travel bug. What are you most proud of? My commitment to family, raising two amazing and successful children and my ability to keep a positive attitude and problem solve when all those teenagers are driving me crazy over the summer. What is one thing about you people might be surprised to learn? I?ve been a member of the Luscious Ladies Literary Society Book Club for 16 years and we not only read books, we take a yearly trip together that started with a backpack trip to the Trinity Alps Wilderness area.