If you've ever wanted to share your home with a cultural exchange student, the ASSE International Student Exchange Programs is seeking host families in the Mid-South for the upcoming school year. ASSE, a not-for-profit organization, operates an international exchange program that brings 3,0oo students annually from abroad to experience high school and life in America. Their aim is to foster international understanding through educational and cross-cultural programs. Here's how it works:
Your family provides room, board, and meals to an international student between the ages of 15 and 18. Your job is to give your teen a glimpse into the American way of life. "It's like accepting a new son or daughter into your home," notes Lisa Reis, ASSE regional director. "The idea is that we all learn from each other. To realize that, regardless of our backgrounds, we'll all people." The student will attend your child's school (or your district high school) and get involved with extracurricular activites. Students receive pocket money (roughly $150 to $300 a month) to cover their personal expenses and meet monthly with area representatives from ASSE.
How does the selection process work? Interested families can visit the ASSE website and review student profiles online. These will give a glimpse into each student's background. Then read on about the application process.
When would my student arrive and what is her length of stay? Students stay either from August to January, or August to June. They would start school like a regular student at your area high school. Your student will experience the holidays with your family, since the idea behind the program is to expose teens to American customs and traditions.
How well do these students speak English? Reis says that depends on their nationality. Asian students typically speak less than Europeans do, but students study English in their schools and quickly become profienct when having to speak daily.
Is the teen required to have his or her own room? No, they may share a room with one of your children.
How does the organization verify host families? Background checks are completed. ASSE representatives also visit your home and check references.
Must I have a school-aged student to be considered as a host family? No, couples without children and single adults are welcome to apply.
To find out more about ASSE and this cultural exchange program, go here.