Elizabeth High School is welcoming new international foreign exchange students for the 2021-2022 school year. The program is called Education First (EF) High School Exchange Year and welcomes …
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Elizabeth High School is welcoming new international foreign exchange students for the 2021-2022 school year. The program is called Education First (EF) High School Exchange Year and welcomes students between the ages of 15 and 18 from 13 countries around the world who will live in the U.S. for either one semester or a full school year.
The program is a nonprofit corporation designated by the U.S. Department of State to operate a J-1 (cultural and educational opportunities) student exchange program. EF brings more students to the U.S. each year than any other high school exchange program. Since 1979, the organization has connected more than 100,000 international students with caring host families across the United States.
The biggest struggle for the program is finding welcoming and exciting host families for the foreign exchange students.
“We have so many students. It is just a matter of getting that dream match for the host family,” said Katie Klossner, international exchange coordinator for EF. “Host families get to tell me what types of personalities, hobbies, and country preference they want in their foreign exchange student, and then I find the perfect match.”
Host families provide the student with room and board and are expected to treat their student as a member of a family, not as a guest. Students cover their own travel costs, health insurance, school expenses, cell phone and spending money. EF and the U.S. Department of State also designate certain requirements of all host families. For example, host parents should be at least 25 years of age or older, pass a background check, and have a stable and suitable household.
Being a host family is an extraordinary and exciting opportunity and will provide the experience of a lifetime for both the family members and the foreign exchange student. In a recent letter sent to the Elizabeth High School community, Klossner shared the experience of an EF host family:
“When we started this amazing adventure, we knew we would be adding a new daughter to our family. While we were gathered at the airport waiting for our newest family member to arrive, I remember everyone being nervous and hopeful, yet so excited. From that day forward, we all learned so much from each other. It was the little everyday things that had the most impact: school, friends, family dinners, game night, making s’mores, school football games and dances, hiking at the lake, celebrating holidays with family, and daddy/daughter days.
“She taught us about Norwegian culture, customs, and holidays and even tried to teach us a little Norwegian language. It was like seeing everything we take for granted each day through someone else’s eyes and seeing it again for the first time. We made so many memories that will last a lifetime and the best part is that she will always be a part of our family and our heart.”
Families in Elbert County who are interested in learning more about hosting an exchange student through EF can contact Katie Klossner at 248-285-1266 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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