Kids are already starting to head back to school in some districts, but families in Eastern Oregon still have an opportunity to host a foreign exchange student this year.
Jennifer Gartin, the local coordinator for the Council of Educational Travel USA program, said she still needs more host families for 2018-19 who live within 60 miles of her Tri-Cities location. They need to be selected by Friday, so she said if people are interested they should contact her immediately.
Gartin said she is looking for families to host for 10 months, 5 months, or to be a “welcome family” that hosts for a few weeks until a permanent home can be found.
“A lot of host families start with that, with the welcome families,” she said. “They’re a little unsure but once they get into it they usually say, ‘This is great.’”
Host families for CETUSA are required to pass a background check and must provide the student with three meals a day and their own bed. Students can have their own room or share with a same-sex student of the same age. Exchange students come with their own medical insurance and an allowance from their parents for school supplies, clothing and other essentials outside food and housing.
“They bring their own pocket money,” Gartin said.
The students are all proficient in English.
She said in return for playing host to the students, families get a memorable experience and an opportunity to foster a “cultural exchange” by teaching the student about American culture and learning about the student’s home.
“You get to learn about a different country in your own home, which is a big thing,” Gartin said.
Gartin is originally from Sweden, and said she valued the experiences she was able to share in when she came to the United States for college and shared cultural differences with her American roommates.
Area schools host foreign exchange students and also send local students to other countries each year through a variety of programs, including CETUSA, Rotary and the ASSE International Student Exchange Program.
Students currently looking for an American host family in the area:
• Jieling, 16, hails from China and enjoys movies, running, badminton, basketball and soccer. He describes himself as mature and friendly and said his dream is to take over his father’s business someday.
• Minh Duc, 16, is from Vietnam. He enjoys cheerleading, cooking, gardening, basketball, bicycling, bowling, classical music, computers, going to sporting events, hiking and gymnastics.
• Natthabhum, 16, is from Thailand and is Buddhist. He collects stamps, wants to be an engineer, plays the violin and enjoys a variety of sports.
• Zhenbgo, 15, is from China and enjoys popular music, hiking and swimming. He has an A- grade average and said he wants to learn a lot and study hard while in America so that he can help his father’s business when he returns home.
• Rafael, 17, is from Brazil and is Catholic. He enjoys computers, watching movies, listening to popular music, running, swimming, cooking and playing video games. He hopes to someday be a doctor, or a dentist like his mother.
For more information or to volunteer to host a student, contact Gartin at 310-985-9579.