Have you ever wondered how you could do your part for world peace? Here is an idea for you. CIEE is looking for over 100 host families in Missouri to take in a foreign exchange student. The concept is that you take the student into your home and treat him or her as one of the family for a school year, providing room and board. You can give preferences as to country, gender or age if you like. The students' families cover special expenses (examples might be cell phone or excursions with the other exchange students).
You can find out all about the program by contacting Holly M. Lintner, CIEE Local Coordinator at (573) 200-4073 or the Scott City High School counseling office at 264-2138.
So what might motivate someone to become a host family? One former host family did it on a whim. “I was talking to a teacher at a friend’s house, and the teacher mentioned they were looking for host families. The friend told me we needed to get one. For some reason the idea stuck,” explained Heraleen Bowers. After that fateful conversation, Heraleen went home and discussed it with her husband Bryan and their children Adam and Bella, then grades 6 and 2. “We just thought it sounded like a fun thing to do,” she said. It all happened very quickly and soon Oskar Nilsson from Sweden was living in their home. “Oskar had a great personality and acclimated very quickly to our home. We drug him around with us like one of our own, to school events, church, family gatherings, etc.” Oskar graduated from Scott City High School in 2006, notably winning the English award at the ceremony. Little did they dream that 13 years later, the families would still be in touch. “We keep up with each other on Facebook, exchange occasional emails and usually talk at Christmas. We’ve even been fortunate enough to visit Sweden once and have hosted his family when they visited the US.”
What are some of the benefits of hosting an exchange student? “I think it makes the world a smaller place, in a good way. After you spend time getting to know people from other countries, you realize that around the globe people share many of the same values of family, freedom, food, fun. We have more in common than differences. Now my ears perk up when Sweden is mentioned on the news. And when we have a big storm or the Midwest makes the world news cycle, Oskar checks in to make sure we’re OK. We ask each other about politics, sports, careers and even nosey personal questions. He’s part of our extended family. One of my favorite Bible verses is ‘Practice hospitality’, and this was a great opportunity for our family to do that. It wasn’t just our family affected. I believe Oskar and the several other exchange students hosted by Scott City families that year had an impact of many of the students at Scott City School and enhanced their learning about other cultures.”