Fox Creek High School is in need of host families to achieve its goal of having foreign exchange students as part of its student body in the 2012-13 school year.
The school is working with the Program for Academic Excellence to find host families and set them up with foreign exchange students.
“PAX is a state department nonprofit exchange visitor program,” said Celia Albert, the local PAX community coordinator. “PAX enrolls about 1,100 students each year and we represent about 79 countries around the world.”
The school hopes to have approximately 12 exchange students this year, the principal, Dr. Tim Murph, wrote in an e-mail.
Foreign students interested in participating in the exchange program, usually ages 15 to 18, are required to have had at least three years of English and have to apply with the exchange organization in their country, Albert said.
“Once they apply to become a student, we give support and do all the necessary things we need to do here on our end,” she said.
Those interested in hosting a foreign exchange student must have a home visit by PAX representatives to ensure they have the room and things required to board a student, undergo a criminal background check and provide three references.
Host families must provide a bed, a place of study and “the love and support for what a teenager would need,” Albert said.
“One thing we hope for is that they can come into a family and be treated like a part of the family, like a son or daughter,” she said. “They come to not only go to school here, but also participate in the family’s activities.”
Host families aren’t required to speak a foreign language in order to get a student, she added.
They might also play host to more than one student. If they choose to get more than one student, the students must come from different countries and speak different languages.
Once approved, the families are matched with an exchange student, and they participate in an orientation before the students arrive. The students also participate in a two-day orientation in New York before traveling to their host home.
The host family and the coordinator typically meet the student at the airport when he or she arrives.
“Then, within several weeks of the student arriving, we have an orientation meeting with the student and the family. That usually takes place after school starts,” she said.
One of the requirements of the exchange program is that the exchange students must remain with the host families for the entire school year, and they can’t have any visits from their family until after the holidays.
Exchange students must maintain at least a C average.
“Most of them are A students or close to it, such as A/B students,” Albert said.
The students’ visas allow them to stay up to a few weeks after school ends.
There are still many foreign exchange students available for placement, but they are quickly getting placed throughout the country.
“So if they are interested in hosting a student, they need to contact me as soon as possible,” she said.
Playing host to a foreign exchange student is not limited to just families, she added.
“They can stay with a single person or a couple as well,” she said. “Hosting is open to anyone that qualifies. If they have the room and the desire to do it, we’ll be interested in hearing from them.”