YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – If you’ve ever been interested in hosting a foreign exchange student, now might be a perfect time.
The Youngstown area is in desperate need of host families for high school students who want to study in America.
Bill Mounts has been hosting foreign exchange students at his New Middletown home for the last four years. He’s now hosted eight kids and said each one became another family member that he stays in touch with even after they’ve left.
“I take them to the YMCA with me, I took them to New York City because they had never been there, I took them to Washington, D.C.”
While many exchange students are placed in popular states such as California, Florida, and New York, many students have their sights set on northeast Ohio.
Youngstown is an area many want to visit to get a family-oriented experience. Some male students put on their profiles that they like the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James, and Youngstown is just close enough for those sports fans. But while the interest is there, host families are in short supply.
Heather Margiotta is an area coordinator for World Heritage Student Exchange Programs. She’s in charge of connecting students with host families in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, and western New York. She said Youngstown is in dire need of family partners.
“We have tons of students on our database that want to come over here for next year and study. We have no families really in this area for them to come and live,” Margiotta said.
World Heritage has an online database where you can look through the student’s applications and even read letters they’ve written to their potential host.
The students come with their own health insurance, spending money, and cell phones. Host families provide a bed, three meals a day, and a family-oriented home experience. The exchange students stay for one year.
Requirements for host families:
- Be at least 26 years old and have kids of your own that either live with you or have already grown and moved out of your home
- Student may even share a room with a child of the same sex who is close in age
- Provide a bed, three meals a day, and have a family-oriented home
- Pass background check
Mounts said the foreign exchange program allows the teens to experience American high school activities.
“Learning, in their country, is the primary goal at the school. They don’t have football teams, or band, or anything like that.”
He said they’re also able to make lots of new friends and attend dances like prom and homecoming.
“For us to be able to place students here, I feel that not only are we able to give them a family community within the home, but it is also going to be within their schools, and the churches, and activities we have going on around here,” Margiotta said.
Recruitment for World Heritage host families takes place in the spring and early summer months to ensure enough time for exchanging letters with your student before his or her arrival.