Local host families needed for international students
ASHEVILLE — Xplore USA, an educational youth travel organization headquartered in Asheville, is seeking Haywood County families to host visiting international students in short-term home-stays this summer.
About 75 students, ages 13 to 17, from Spain, Italy and Germany are participating in the program, which runs in four sessions from June 28 to Aug. 16. Families have the option to host a visiting student for three weeks, in sessions beginning July 5 and July 26; for four weeks, in a session beginning June 28; or for six weeks, from July 5 to Aug. 16.
This is a great opportunity to experience a different culture in your own home, and because of the short-term commitment and the tremendous amount of programming that we provide, it's an ideal first step for families interested in hosting a foreign exchange student, said Sarah Jane Casciato, program manager for Xplore USA.
Most of the students create a bond with their host family that lasts for years. The new energy your international student will bring to your home will have a ripple effect throughout your family, your neighborhood and your community, Casciato said.
Visiting students participate Monday through Friday in all-day intercultural camp programming provided by Xplore USA. Mornings are spent in language classes and afternoons in activities like hiking, swimming, rock climbing, bowling, ropes course, sightseeing or volunteering with local charities. On Wednesdays, students do full-day excursions to theme parks, whitewater rafting or tubing.
Evenings and weekends are free, with visiting students spending individual time with their host families.
Host families provide room and board, local transportation to camp or carpool meet-up, and a loving and supportive environment to the visiting student. In exchange, families receive one free week of camp, so that a host sibling or friend can join in the all-day intercultural programming, and discounted rates on additional weeks of camp. Host families also receive weekly $50 grocery cards to help offset additional food costs during the visiting students stay.
"Our kids loved attending the summer camp with the exchange students," said Dawn Cender, an Asheville mother whose family hosted Lena, Valentina and Ana from Germany, Italy and Spain. "Xplore USA introduced our family to other cultures and connected us to others outside the U.S. Their staff has an infectious enthusiasm for connecting people."
Xplore USA, located in Asheville, N.C., is part of the larger Xplore the World! organization. With offices in Suffolk, England; Hamburg, Berlin and Cologne, Germany; and Shenzhen, China, Xplore the World! has more than 25 years of experience in student travel, academic year programs, and short-term language and cultural camps. Since its inception in 2007, Xplore USA has provided an educational and cultural experience to more than 50 local families.
Interested families can apply or learn more about Xplore USA by visiting www.xploreusa.org or calling (828) 651-8502.