Host families needed for exchange students for four-week summer program | TheUnion.com

Host families needed for exchange students for four-week summer program

Stephen Roberson
Staff Writer

For anyone looking for a cultural awakening, here's your chance.

Cultural Homestay International, a nonprofit educational exchange program that's been around for 37 years, is looking for host families for 12 Japanese and Chinese students, all between 15 and 17, for four weeks from July 15 to Aug. 12.

Students will be taking classes at Bitney College Prep High School.

The organization hosts a variety of programs, including au pair placement, full-year student exchange programs and this one, a brief group stay designed to help students with their conversational English.

The four-week program is tied to the year-long exchange. Unlike in past years — local high schools hosted four exchange students last year — there won't be one this year.

So when the students are done with their four weeks, they'll be sent for nine months to live with a host family somewhere in the country for the length of the school year.

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THE PURPOSE

Each of the 12 students has a working knowledge of English, but their language skills, often taught by English learners themselves, are often quite formal.

This four-week program is designed for students to learn more constructive, conversational English.

"This is an opportunity for them to learn some idioms, contractions, just to converse and get their vocabulary up to speed, in particular their academic vocabulary," Cultural Homestay International teacher coordinator Kristin Steindorff said.

Each has taken and passed the English Language Test for International Students, which is no small feat.

"There's a lot of vocabulary that would be challenging to American, English students," Steindorff said. "I'm an English teacher and a special ed teacher … so I know the vocabulary on that test was rather challenging."

REWARDS

Host families don't just provide an opportunity for students, they give themselves a lasting cultural experience.

"I have hosted students myself since my kids were 3 and 6 years old all the way until the point where they were older than the exchange students." Steindorff said. "What they've gotten out of it has been learning about another culture."

She also said the program gives host families an opportunity to see their own culture from a different perspective.

"There is something special about sharing your culture with someone from another culture," she said. "You start to see your own culture with new eyes. … You just kind of see things you never noticed before because now you're looking at through the eyes of somebody who's taking it all in for the first time."

The feedback, Steindorff said, is always positive.

"A lot of parents who have hosted have said it's a fabulous experience," she said. "I've never heard anyone say they did not have a good experience. The people who open their homes and their hearts to these students seem to really get a lot out of it."

For more information on becoming a host family, contact Susan Campbell at 530-301-1046 or Steindorff at 530-320-2189 or visit http://www.chinet.org.

To contact Staff Writer Stephen Roberson, email sroberson@theunion.com or call 530-477-4236.