October 24, 2014

Medina
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Host families sought for foreign exchange students

Foreign exchange students are looking for families to take them in for the 2014-15 school year.

Tammy Johnson, a spokeswoman for the International Student Exchange program, said the organization hopes to find Medina County families to host students from Spain, Germany, Taiwan, Brazil, Mexico, China, South Korea, Denmark, Serbia, Thailand, Colombia, Vietnam and Finland.

“These teens get one opportunity to get here,” said Johnson, of Creston. “If they don’t get chosen, they don’t get to apply again.”

The only requirements, she said, are that the families have a space for the student to sleep and enough income to feed one extra person. Interested families are required to have a background check performed before being accepted.

The students come with their own spending money, allowing them to cover school fees and lunches, as well as personal expenses and restaurant bills.

Johnson said families accepted to the program will be presented with profiles of compatible students. They can select the one they want.

“They’re very gracious when they come,” Johnson said. “They’re usually well-mannered teenagers who’ve gone through health and background testing, and they’re pre-screened for attitude and academic aptitude.”

She said the International Student Exchange program has about 3,000 students across the country each year, and very few issues arise with any of them. Johnson has first-hand experience since her family takes exchange students.

The students chosen are required to speak English, but Johnson said they may have more proficiency with either the written or spoken word. Some may speak “broken English,” but that varies.

Length of stay for the students spans from five months to a full year, she said.

She said the program is especially great for retired couples and “empty-nesters.”

“It’s just a wonderful way for these kids to come to the United States,” she said. “They want to see what American life is like.”

The deadline for applications is June, and the exchange students will begin to arrive in August.

If interested, Johnson said families may call her at (330) 347-8312 or email her at tjohnson.ise@gmail.com.

Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or nglunt@medina-gazette.com.