Local high schools in need of foreign exchange host families

Published: Jul. 12, 2021 at 6:13 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Foreign exchange students are eager to learn in America after last year’s programs were derailed due to COVID. But now, there’s a shortage of volunteer host families in our area.

“I think there’s something really special about opening your heart and your home to someone else’s child,” foreign exchange student host Jen Hooper said.

Hooper and her family served as a host family for a Clay High School foreign exchange student this past school year.

Hooper’s host family experience was very different than other family’s experiences due to COVID. She says they did their best to give her the “American” experience.

“Trying to make up for the experience that she didn’t have with classmates,” she said. “And social gatherings. And just getting out and being able to experience America in a different way.”

Their student was able to attend prom, enjoy snow and even become a member of the cheerleading team.

“You know I think it gave us a picture of how much more alike we are than different of people around the world,” Hooper said. “And the differences don’t really matter.”

Brenda Markin who coordinates the foreign exchange program in South Bend says this year shouldn’t have as many challenges as last with COVID restrictions easing.

Markin says exchange students are always ready to experience America, but they have a shortage of host families. She says South Bend families should strongly consider it.

“Many, many host families have an extraordinary experience and they are their true son or daughter,” Markin said. “We say their international son or daughter.”

International Cultural Exchange Services is looking for host families, so anyone interested can click here to learn more.

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