CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) – For the first time ever, the American Councils for International Education is looking to bring their exchange student program to Centre County. This means high school students from over 20 countries around the world are hoping that you’ll open up your hearts and homes, and be their host family this coming school year.
But with August fast approaching, the organization says it’s urgent that they find local families who are willing to commit.
“We hope to spend much of July meeting with families and answering their questions. Then, we hope to secure a placement by the end of the month. This would give us enough time to prepare both the student and family for the start of the school year,” said local coordinator William Shuey.
According to Shuey, cultural exchange is a great opportunity for the area.
“This is an opportunity to learn more about a different corner of the world. Our students come from areas underrepresented in the United States. Additionally, this is an opportunity for our community to share our local traditions and culture,” said Shuey.
Like teaching them a cheer at a Penn State game!
“Sit down with your student, carve their first Jack-O-Lantern. Help them pick out a dress for prom,” said Shuey.
American Council’s Director Benjamin Gaylord says the cultural exchange is also a way for families to get a sense of travel, without having to book a flight.
“We can fly across the world to go on a family trip and have that experience but here you can actually be immersed in another culture without leaving your home,” said Gaylord.
According to Gaylord the exchange programs are fully funded by the Department of State, and with a 2.3% acceptance rate, he says the students, are far from average.
“It’s statistically more competitive to become an American Councils’ finalist than it is to earn admission to an Ivy League University. These are scholarship students and they’re here with a purpose. They’re going to really engage. They want to share about their culture, they do presentations, they do volunteer work,” said Gaylord.
Not to mention the connections you’ll make, will be for life.
“We had these students in my high school growing up and since then I have attended weddings abroad. Now we’re at the point where my former host brother has two kids and I’m excited to go meet the second one. So it’s really exciting to see where these relationships begin and where they can go years down the road,” said Shuey.
If interested in hosting, you can email local coordinator William Shuey at [email protected]
Sign up for the WTAJ Newsletter for the latest local news, weather and community events that matter to you.