The new school year is approaching quickly, and for many, that means packing up the swimsuits and bringing out the book bags. While local families are going supplies shopping and preparing to get back into the swing of things, there are some students who remain uncertain about the start of the school year—particularly those that wish to take part in the Student Ambassador Exchange Program.
Rachel Peloquin, a local coordinator for the program, is still looking for host families for 20 students who wish to study in the United States. The program is for high school students from other countries who come to the United States for one or two semesters to “increase dialogue between cultures, share new experiences, and make long lasting ties of friendship.”
Peloquin’s job is to locate host families in her area, which encompasses Derry and Londonderry. Once the students arrive, she serves as a contact for them and the family to help with any issues that may arise. She also conducts monthly check-ins with the student and host family once everyone is settled in.
“This is a really great opportunity to learn about other cultures and also to be able to give these students a wonderful experience, as they are very excited to learn about American culture,” she said.
The students come from all over the world, but many are from Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
Responsibilities for host families include providing transportation, such as bringing the student to and from school, providing three daily meals, a bed of their own, and treating the student as a member of the family with the same rules, responsibilities, and love provided to other members of the family.
There is some “minimal cost” associated with hosting a student, according to the Student Ambassador Exchange website. While the students will have their own spending money and are responsible for paying for their own personal activities and extracurricular activities including school clubs and events, host families will need to pay for the costs associated with housing another person, such as utility bills and an increase in groceries.
For those who are unsure of housing a student for an entire semester or year, the program also looks for “welcome families,” families willing to host students for one to two months while the program looks for a more permanent host family.
“The welcome families are a great opportunity for people who want to host, but can’t commit to the full school year,” Peloquin said.
Families interested in becoming a host family or a welcome family can fill out an application at studentambassadorexchange.org, respond to one of the Facebook posts Peloquin has made regarding the program, or call the program to learn more at 512-323-9595.