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Host families sought for foreign students

May 23, 2011

It’s about bringing the unforgettable experience home.
Local resident Karen Ivy is working with Center for Cultural Interexchange to ensure area residents are able to experience different cultures without ever having to leave home. For the past three years, Ivy has been serving as area coordinator and as a host family.
“I wanted to have the experience of being able to teach them (the students) about American culture,” Ivy said. “It’s a chance to share our life experiences.”
CCI offers different programs which allow not only students but adults to travel abroad. They offer Volunteer Abroad, Teach Abroad and Work Abroad for adults. Teenagers can take advantage of the high school abroad program or the summer immersion program .
“It’s a way for the different cultures to be experienced,” Ivy said.
Students have the option of attending an entire school year abroad, a semester or the summer.
“In case they aren’t ready to be away from home for an extended period of time, but want to experience the program we have different programs,” Ivy said.
There are 52 countries involved in the program which opens those involved to the cultures of the Mediterranean, Europe, South America, the former Soviet Union,Turkey and more.
“This is a great way to bring the world to your front door for those who can’t travel,” Ivy said.
One of the biggest factors in making the program run is the availability of host families and local coordinators. Local coordinators are in charge of finding families to host students interested in traveling to the area.
“Local coordinators have a 120-mile radius to use when it comes to placing the students in school,” Ivy said.
Host families are responsible for opening their homes to the students once they arrive and ensuring they are able to get the full experience during their time here.
“Host families are expected to live their lives as normal and make the host student feel like part of the family,” Ivy said.
In order to be a host family, a screening is conducted by the state department and an in-home interview is arranged. Once the family is cleared, the coordinator will match the family with a student fitting their lifestyles.
“The students are matched based on their activities, likes, dislikes and type of lifestyle,” Ivy said. “We want to match the students and families as closely as possible. If the family leads a busy lifestyle, we are going to try and find a student that fits lifestyle.”
The program allows between 400 and 500 exchange students per region. There are four students in Coahoma ISD, two in Big Spring ISD, Lubbock, Midland and one in Rankin. In the Big Spring area there are four hosts families — one in Big Spring and three in Coahoma.
“This is a great program bringing cultural awareness to the students and community,” Ivy said. “It’s an experience that allows the student to experience Easter, Thanksgiving and enrich the lives of all those involved.”
To find out more information, visit the company website at www.cci-exchange.org. To find out how to be a host family, call the national office at 1-888-227-6231 or Ivy at 432-847-4555.

Contact Staff Writer Amanda Moreno at 263-7331 ext. 234 or by e-mail at life@bigspringherald.com

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