KEWEENAW PENINSULA — With the new school year less than two weeks away, parents and students are making final preparations for a fresh start to a new chapter of education. And Keweenaw area families are being asked to take part in a week known program that offers a piece of the American dream to teenagers from other countries.
When exchange students from other countries come to the United States to study, they leave behind their long time friends and family in their homeland and venture off into the unknown.
Many travel thousands of miles to experience a school year on American soil, with many uncertainties about what lies ahead.
“I think it is a huge sacrifice made by both the students and by their families be apart for so long, and they’re actually discouraged from contacting home super often, at least initially, so that they are able to push themselves out of their comfort zone and make new friends, and meet new people. But these are kids who one day want to be doctors or lawyers. These are the kids that you see who come to Tech from other countries. They’re here to improve their English so that in the future they can go to an American college and have a great college experience.” Said Exchange student coordinator, Lauren Sherr.
Those students come here prepared with things like spending money and health insurance, but what they need is a place to call home and the support of a family unit while receiving that education.
“In a host family, we are really looking for anything. It can be a traditional family, with mom and dad and kids. We have some single person homes. We have a lot of non traditional families. So, anyone can host an exchange student. Really the only requirement is that they are able to feed the student. You have to be financially able to provide meals, and you have to have a safe place for them to sleep.” She also stated.
Lauren Teaches English and Spanish in Baraga schools. In addition to her role as an educator, she is also a placement coordinator for International Cultural Exchange Services, and makes it a personal goal to bring as many foreign exchange students to our area as possible to enrich the lives of these students. And she is asking for your help.
“We do have four boys right now who are looking for placement specifically in the UP. We have a young man from Thailand, one from Brazil, one from South Korea, and one from China. And we are currently offering a $200 referral fee or referral incentive to anybody who can help us find a good family who is able to take those kids, since there is such a short amount of time between now and the school year starting.” Said, Sherr.
If you’re a school administrator who would like to welcome a Foreign Exchange Student to your district, or a family who would like to open your home to the program, she asks that you contact her either by email or by telephone. Phone: 586.531.1516 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
“We are looking to place them this school year. I know it’s really last minute, but it’s really not hard to get qualified. It’s a background check, I’ll call a couple of family referrals, people you’ve worked with. It goes pretty quickly once the process has started.” Sherr concluded.