Who hasn’t dreamed about walking among the Egyptian pyramids, or soaking in the sun on a beach in Spain, or wandering along the Great Wall of China? Every parent wants to give their children a taste of the world, but the economic reality of international air travel for a family, not to mention hotels, passports and food, makes it tough for most of us to consider except in our daydreams.
There is a way to give your children the world – without leaving your living room. How? Host a foreign exchange student from a country you’ve always admired! Fascinated by France? Curious about China? Intrigued by India? By welcoming an international student from one of these countries into your home, you instantly open a portal to a far off land.
“Exchange programs are a strong, peace promoting opportunity,” says Elizabeth Keel, an Ayusa host mom from Fairview, North Carolina. “Seeing first-hand how other cultures think and choose to behave defeats bigotry, rendering thoughtless cultural generalities meaningless. I am so fortunate to be hosting Yi my exchange student from China and to have this wonderful young woman in my life.”
Foreign exchange students come from all over the world. Ayusa matches host families with students from more than 60 different countries including Argentina, China, Ecuador, Egypt, France, Germany, Japan, Lebanon, Norway, Pakistan, Sweden, Thailand, Tunisia and Turkey. All high school foreign exchange students are fully insured, bring their own spending money, and are proficient in English – and all high school exchange programs are regulated by the U.S. Department of State.
“We welcome host families of all shapes and sizes – families with young children, families with no children, empty nesters whose children have left home, single parents and non-traditional families,” says Connie Lawrence, Community Representative of Ayusa, a non-profit that promotes global learning and leadership through foreign exchange and study abroad opportunities for high school students. “The key requirements for a host family are to provide a safe and nurturing home environment, genuinely love children, and have a desire to learn more about a different culture.”
Volunteer host families provide foreign exchange students a nurturing environment, three meals a day and a bedroom (either private or shared with a host sibling of the same gender). Each host family and student is supported by a professionally trained community representative who works with the family and student for the entire program. All interested host families must pass a criminal background check and a home visit by an exchange organization.
Interested host families are required to fill out an application, pass a background check and interview with a local exchange program representative in their homes. Once accepted to a program, host families can view profiles of students to find the right match for their family.
“Hosting an exchange student is a life-changing experience – for the student, the host family, and the host community,” adds Lawrence. “There is no better way to teach your children about the world around them than through welcoming an international high school student into your home.”
Ayusa is currently accepting applications for families to host an exchange student for the 2013-2014 school year. For more information about hosting a high school foreign exchange student, please contact Connie Lawrence at 919-552-3647, firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.ayusa.org.