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May 17, 2005 > Exchange students welcome in American homes

Exchange students welcome in American homes

by Veronica Velasquez

Cultural Homestay International is looking for families to host foreign exchange students from 32 countries in Asia, South America and Europe. The organization, which started in 1982, is also active in au pair and travel programs that welcome foreign exchanges from the age of nine to adulthood to the United States to learn about the culture.

To participate in the program, a student must be proficient in English and on a learning level comparative to that of American high school students. They also need a sense of adventure, a sense of humor, a sense of themselves and the ability to accept differences, noted CHI Academic Coordinator Suzanne Autry

Families who host the students act as legal guardians, providing a room, meals and general safety. It is the host family's job to make sure the exchange students do their homework and encourage them to have a social life and teach them about life in the United States.

The nonprofit organization places students from many different countries in a year - long high school experience. The students are fully insured before they travel to America, and they can stay for the entire school year, or for just a semester or two. Some of them throw themselves into the experience with gusto, while others pose more of a challenge.

"The most difficult ones are the most endearing," insisted Autry. "Because you get more contact from working closely with them, and you learn more about them."

Anyone interested in hosting a foreign exchange student can call Suzanne Autry at 1-800-521-1278, or attend the annual CHI Parent Appreciation Dessert on Sunday, May 22 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Modesto Center Plaza in Modesto.

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