A program that promotes international relations is looking for Iowans who are interested in hosting an African high school student in their home for about a year. Michael McMahon is coordinator of the Iowa Resource for International Service, or IRIS, which is searching for Iowa homes now for students who’ll arrive in the fall.
He says there are 50 students from Tanzania and Nigeria who will be placed in Iowa homes in August — to stay through late May or early June of next year. Most are between 16 and 18 years old and will be attending 11th grade. McMahon says becoming a host provides an opportunity to model neighborly values and compassion.
He says the hosts often find this to be one of their most rewarding experiences, mentoring and parenting a young student who is so far from home. McMahon says the students are very respectful and very gracious for being here, as this is a rare opportunity for them. He says they’re looking for a wide range of host families in Iowa — from rural to urban and from young married couples to retired folks.
McMahon says you can be single, married, have a large or small family, it doesn’t matter, though everyone over 18 living in the home will have to undergo a background check. The students -do- speak English and receive a monthly stipend to cover basic needs. For more information on the non-profit, non-religious, Ames-based IRIS program, call (515) 292-7103 or visit the IRIS website .