ST. PAUL, MINN. – U.S. representatives of an international student exchange network are seeking qualified for local families willing to host young people from overseas, for a period of 5 to10 months, beginning in the fall.
Applications for hosting are available now through Nacel Open Door, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to international understanding and language education. Nacel Open Door is a founding partner organization of Nacel International, Inc., whose exchange programs date back to 1957.Nacel Open Door representative Carol Berger says the organization, based in Minnesota for United States placements, is looking for just the right families to open their homes to students from abroad.
“We’re looking for both host families and the host representatives,” says Berger. “Host families provide room and board, and a safe, loving environment, for the exchange students coming to the United States from various countries, to study either for the semester or the school year.” A single-semester stay is approximately 5 months while the entire school year is about 10 months.
“Some of the countries that we have are France, Spain, Japan, Germany, countries in the former Soviet Union and several others,” Berger explains. “The students range in age from 15 to 18 and my preference is 16-17 years old. They go to the local high school in the area where the family lives.”
Families who consider hosting may state which top 3 countries they prefer as origin of their visiting foreign student, along with the teen’s age, and Nacel carefully matches families with students.
“They may share a room with a student host, provided they have their own bed, their own study area, and their own place where they can hang their clothes, like a dresser drawer where they can put their stuff away. They have various levels of English, but a lot of times, even by the end of the calendar year, their English is really pretty good.”
Applicants should be prepared for an on-line criminal background check, in-home interview and home screening to ensure the students’ safety. Students are required by the organization to carry their own medical insurance. Once approved, the final step is for families to enroll the new student in high school.
“Host families don’t have to give them any kind of allowance, their natural family pays for that,” Berger assures. “It’s a win-win for everybody. The student gets to learn about our culture and we get to learn about their culture and the family and student make lifelong friends.” Student exchanges often turn out to be reciprocal in nature, opening doors for all concerned.
Lots of times the host families will travel to that country to visit the student and their family will show them around their country, or they may come back later to visit the host family years after they were an exchange student.”
Berger knows from experience. Her family has hosted foreign exchange students for many years, and now her own daughter Susan is a representative for Nacel Open Door, too. While host families do not receive a stipend, local representatives who place students do receive compensation.
For hosting contact Carol or Susan Berger at 209-502-7468 www.nacelopendoor.org
Anyone interested in being a local representative of Nacel Open Door can call (800) 622-3553