SAYVILLE \u2013 For the\u00a0past year, a Sayville family has hosted a special exchange student from Thailand as part of the\u00a0International Student Exchange\u00a0(ISE) Organization. Ploy Srisupavanich, a 17-year old girl from Bangkok, is now wrapping up her junior year at Sayville High School. She has experienced a great deal since coming to the United States, and has touched the hearts of many while enriching her own\u00a0life in the\u00a0process. Since September, Ploy (whose nickname in Thai means \u201cjewelry\u201d) has been a member of the Ulloa household with her host parents, Sergio and Jamie, and sister Gabi. In addition to joining the Golden Flashes JV basketball team, Ploy has spent many hours volunteering her time with the Salvation Army, reading to children, fundraising for her school, participating in a food drive, tutoring, and helping her host mother and sister with a wide range of volunteering ventures. \u201cPloy has been more involved than most of the kids that live here permanently,\u201d said Jamie, who graduated from Sayville in \u201982 and whose mother graduated in \u201964. \u201cShe is a wonderful example for our local children.\u201d Ploy\u2019s long list of activities include selling candy for\u00a0cancer charities\u00a0with the basketball team, serving Christmas dinner\u00a0to the\u00a0needy at the high school, assisting her classmates in building a float over Homecoming weekend, and even a visit to Disneyworld. She also helps younger school children with homework at Cherry Avenue Elementary School. \u201cI wanted to get as involved as I possibly could,\u201d said Ploy. \u201cI\u2019m glad I did because I was able to learn a lot, help others, and make friends along the way.\u201d The Ulloa family comes from a line of immigrants, and currently has relatives living in Ecuador. Jamie said that she felt it would be a positive experience for them to showcase their shared heritage and lifestyle with someone from another part of the world. In fact, Ploy accompanied the family on a trip to Ecuador earlier\u00a0in the\u00a0year. Ploy\u2019s host sister Gabi has also joined Ploy and her mother for many of their community-oriented endeavors. She said that her favorite aspect of volunteering is seeing the smiles on the faces of those they help. \u201cIt\u2019s been really cool to have Ploy stay with us,\u201d said Gabi, who is a 7th grader at Sayville Middle School and has two older siblings who graduated in 2005 and 2006. \u201cIt\u2019s great to have someone to spend time with while I\u2019m in the house and when we\u2019re out doing activities. We\u2019ve learned a lot from each other and had a lot of great times.\u201d Jamie is an Area Representative for the Babylon-based ISE, which was founded in 1982 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the mission of \u201cEducating Tomorrow\u2019s Leaders.\u201d It draws about 2,100 exchange students per year across the country, including 50 on Long Island. She has coordinated gatherings with other exchange students from the region, which drew 20-30 students and their families each time. \u201cWe\u2019re ambassadors for our community and our country,\u201d said Jamie, who noted that the family will host a new exchange student named Heather from China next year. \u201cIt\u2019s a great give-and-take program where both sides can enjoy the experience and learn a lot about both the wider world and themselves.\u201d One such event will take place on June 7, where kids and their host families will have the opportunity to participate in the \u201cBirthday in a Bag Project\u201d \u2013 a collaborative effort with the Patchogue Club of the New Vision Pioneers Chapter 85. Attendees can contribute birthday bags containing a cake, party supplies, and a gift to children in Suffolk County\u2019s Family\u00a0Homeless Shelters\u00a0and Community Outreach Centers who can\u2019t afford to celebrate their birthdays. \u201cYou see how some people live in other parts of the world and it helps you feel thankful for what you do have,\u201d said Jamie regarding the family\u2019s volunteer efforts. \u201cIt\u2019s important to have that awareness. We don\u2019t have much, but what we do have, we share.\u201d Ploy is scheduled to go back to Thailand on July 1 \u2013 her 18th birthday. As a result of her experience in the United States, she hopes to develop a career in the field of international relations and return back to the country someday in the future. With just over a month left, she reflected on how much her time here has influenced her personal character and outlook on the world. \u201cThis year has changed my life,\u201d said Ploy, who has two older brothers back in Thailand. \u201cI have felt a lot of feelings along the way, including homesick, sad, depressed, as well as happy, joy, and fun. I have to\u00a0learned how to deal with people, how to\u00a0live by myself without my family in Thailand, and how to\u00a0help people. I worked very hard, and now feel\u00a0more responsible and grown up. \u201cIt has been one of the best years of my life, and I will never forget the experiences I\u2019ve had,\u201d continued Ploy. \u201cI am so lucky that I\u00a0met a nice\u00a0host family as well as great friends and teachers at the high school. I am so happy that I am here, and will never regret that I made the decision to come. Thank you so much\u00a0to my\u00a0mom and\u00a0my dad for all that they have done for me.\u201d We invite you to read more about what it is like to work with us. If you have specific questions about the area representative role, check out our Area Representative FAQ page. Still on the fence? Complete our Area Representative interest form and one of our regional managers will get in touch with you to answer your questions and to help you get started. In addition to working in the student exchange industry, we like to encourage everyone to explore the option of becoming a volunteer host family to host an exchange student.