If you’ve ever wanted to experience foreign culture without even leaving your home, International Cultural Exchange Services is offering just that opportunity. ICES places hundreds of exchange students from around the world into American homes every year, and the Patterson division is looking for host families.
“We are looking for families that are available to open their hearts and homes to an exchange student for 6 to 8 weeks, a semester or for the school year,” said Field Manager Dana Haskill. According to the nonprofit’s website, the only thing host families need to provide is a house and transportation. The students come with their own spending money and medical coverage.
“Interested families will need to have a bed for the student to sleep in,” Haskill said, “and provide meals for the student while they’re home. Families will also go through a vetting process that includes a background check.”
Before receiving their student, families will go through an orientation to acquaint them with the process. Local coordinators are also available to all participating families for additional questions.
“Host families get to choose what student they host with the help of a local coordinator who helps find a student who has similar interests and hobbies,” explained Haskill. Students come from all around, including France, Slovakia, Germany, Italy, Spain, and Denmark. Their ages range between 14 and 18.
Haskill has featured some students looking for placement this year on her Facebook account. These include Helga, a 17-year-old from Italy who studies languages and movies. Another is 16-year-old Laurenz from Germany. According to the post, he’s dreamed of living in the United States since visiting New York City when he was nine.
Multiple other students are looking for families, and the ICES staff work to find students who are the right fit for their hosts.
The ICES website contains a page full of glowing testimonials from host families. These students walk through the rhythms of our family life and we, in turn, get to learn more about another culture,” writes one family from Ohio. “What a blessing to get to impact a young life!” “Youth exchange has given us more love and blessings than we could have ever imagined,” says another family in Wisconsin. “Hosting an exchange student not only gave her the opportunity to join our family but gave us the opportunity to join hers.
Those interested can call (800) 344-3566 to talk with the ICES staff or contact the local Field Manager Dana Haskill at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 818-2533.