Have you ever wanted to study another culture but never had the chance? To learn about a new culture, you could host an international student.
iE-USA is looking for local Warwick families to host one or two students from across the globe for the 2014-2015 school year. Families can apply to host a student for just the fall semester or for a full year.
iE-USA is a non-profit organization that matches international exchange students to host families and schools. The program is certified by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel and follows all U.S. Department of State Student Exchange Program rules and regulations. The program promotes education and intercultural acceptance and understanding through their exchanges.
Emily Rolin, an iE-USA area coordinator, said, “Rhode Island’s spirit of hospitality and focus on academic enrichment makes it an ideal environment to develop cultural exchange and promote international diplomacy on a local level.”
Students can come from any country, including Germany, Spain, Switzerland and Thailand. The students, 15 to 18 years old, come to experience the American educational system and the lifestyles of American students.
Rolin said, “Every year Rhode Island plays host to many talented, top-of-their-class students with the lifelong dream of studying in America.”
Gail Pecchia, a Warwick resident, has had seven different exchange students from two weeks to a whole year. Although she did not work through iE-USA, she said hosting an exchange student could be a great experience.
“You are sharing your cultures with each other,” Pecchia said. “They really become another member of your family. We still keep in touch with most of them. Many have even come back for another stay with us.”
The program encourages families to welcome the students and involve them in daily routines throughout their stay. Families have to provide a bed for students. This room can be shared with a child of about the same age and gender. Host parents must help with transportation and pay for all family outings. The student will have money, however, for more personal expenses.
They also have their own medical insurance.
Pecchia said one of the difficult aspects of housing an exchange student initially is figuring out who pays for what expenses. Families are volunteering their time and homes for these students.
“The best thing about this program is that you could potentially develop a lifetime relationship. You never know what will happen until you open your home and heart,” Pecchia said.
All student applicants go through a thorough and extensive application process. They also participate in an orientation program in their home country before beginning the program.
The final day to apply to host a student is Aug. 15.
To learn more about hosting a student, read personal accounts, search through students who have applied or to apply, visit iE-USA.org. You can also contact Joe Bissell, the iE-USA Rhode Island representative, by his telephone, 517-388-8948, or by email at j.bissell@international-experience.