Iowa families are needed to volunteer to host teenagers from any of about 45 other countries through the International Student Exchange program.
Julia Bazal, the program’s Iowa coordinator, says they place about 50 students a year with Iowa families as a way of sharing customs, cultures, languages and traditions. Bazal says there are more than a dozen international students looking for host homes in Iowa.
“They’re all between 15 and 18,” Bazal says. “They attend the local high school for either one semester or the entire school year. They come with their own spending money and their own insurance. We are looking for families who are excited to make them a part of their families.”
Host families can be traditional, single-parent, empty nesters and retirees. She says the Iowa host families have very basic responsibilities.
“As a host family, you would include your student as part of your family,” Bazal says. “You would provide three meals a day. Basically, our students pay for their own school lunch so it’s breakfast and dinner. The student needs a bed and a place to study and then a lot of love and attention and guidance.”
Bazal, who’s originally from Germany, says the Iowa families don’t necessarily need to know any foreign languages.
“No, the students are here to improve their English skills,” Bazal says. “All of our students speak English by the time they arrive in Iowa. It goes both ways, so if a family is interested in learning Spanish, for example, a student could help them. (Hosts) don’t need any foreign language skills. The students are here to speak English with everyone.”
She says the summer is ideal for signing up for the exchange program.
“This is an excellent time,” Bazal says. “All of our students will arrive five days before school starts which means for Iowa, that would be mid- to late-August. We still have plenty of time to place students with wonderful host families. We’re looking for about 15 more families in Iowa who would be interested in welcoming one of our students.”
Learn more about the program by calling 877-493-0351 or visit: www.iseusa.com