Exchange student program seeks family placements

BIG RAPIDS – If you’ve ever hosted an exchange student, or been one yourself, you know that programs that encourage exchange student participation can change lives. Currently, the STS Foundation, one of the largest student exchange programs is seeking families to place students with for the upcoming school year.

The STS Foundation is a Department of State designated sponsor responsible for all aspects of the high school exchange program. The organization offers American families the opportunity to become citizen diplomats by welcoming an international high school student into their home.

The organization’s mission is to facilitate educational opportunities where all participants can break down cultural barriers, and gain respect and understanding of each other’s way of life.

Tammy Lynn Hughes, senior regional director for the STS Foundation, said the organization has had to face issues with the COVID-19 pandemic making families hesitant to welcome foreign students into their home but have had success with many family placements.

“Generally American families are very open to student exchange and opening their homes to this amazing experience” Hughes said. “Due to the COVID issues, and changes in the last year, families have been a little more skeptical, but we still have those who love hosting helping us. We are currently still in need of volunteer families for this school year.”

The STS organization works with roughly 150 families in Michigan, and places 500-600 students nationally. For families hosting, the STS Foundation holds sponsored Host Family orientations that provide families with all the logistical and practical information involved when hosting a foreign exchange student.

The organization is committed to facilitating a high quality program for all participants, with the sole purpose of providing students with a safe and nurturing environment where they can learn and grow, host families with the opportunity to be citizen diplomats while learning about another culture, and schools with the opportunity to enrich their educational environment.

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