Leavenworth is a great community and a great place for foreign exchange students to visit. I had never thought of hosting an exchange student because I just didn’t know how to go about it. Then I found that there are programs that make hosting an exchange student very easy and pleasurable. There are just a few things you have to do and then you can become an international family.
There are two programs that my parents have dealt with in the exchange process, and my mom has become a coordinator for both exchange programs. One of those two programs is PAX or Program of Academic Exchange. PAX was founded in 1990 and provides an opportunity for students to study abroad in other countries. PAX each year places between 600-800 students into homes all over the world. PAX carefully screens students and host families before allowing either to participate in the program. They do this to ensure a stable loving family is found and they make sure that their students are ready for living in a foreign land away from their family. PAX is one of the best programs that my family has worked with and we have hosted six different students through their program.
PAX works with 40 different countries to place students all around the world. A lot of interested people often ask who can host, what are my responsibilities, what if the student gets sick, and what if the placement just isn’t working out.
A host family comes in all sizes, but you must be at least twenty four to host. A host family’s only responsibilities are to provide the student with food, a place to stay, and a supportive home environment. Student’s natural families provide them with money for recreation, school lunches, and school fees. If a student gets sick, its ok they are covered by full coverage health insurance, the only responsibility of the host family is to take them to the doctor or emergency room. If there are problems with a student or in the family the coordinator will come and try to solve any problems, in very rare occasions some students might be found new homes if it’s just not working out. Coordinators also do monthly evaluations and will always be in contact with you during the experience, they also often host events that they invite all the students to participate in as a group.
For additional information please visit the PAX website at www.pax.org.
The second program is ASSE which started as the American Scandinavian Student Exchange to provide an exchange program between Sweden and the United States. Since then the program has expanded out to 31 different countries.
ASSE has similar protocol to PAX; they also screen both the family and the student to ensure a healthy relationship will transpire. They work very hard to make sure the students and families will fit each other nicely. The Area Representative (what they call coordinators) here again are always involved and will check up on the students progress and see how things are going otherwise.
ASSE like PAX also has the same guide lines for what the responsibilities of the family entail. The family must provide a warm home environment, provide the student with normal meals, and provide the student with a place to stay. Students in this program again are covered with health insurance and their natural families provide the student with money for recreation.
For additional information on ASSE please visit their website www.ASSE.com.
Both programs have so much to offer both international students and the families that decide to host. It’s a great experience and you get to meet a lot of great kids and make life long friendships with them and their families. Through hosting my family has had the opportunity to travel to Germany and stay with 6 different families whose students either lived with us or were placed in the US by my family. They accepted us with open arms and treated us as if we were family, taking us all over Germany to see sights and enjoy their culture.
We have also been able to travel to Mexico and enjoy Monterrey and Vera Cruz with two families that had students stay with our family. One student’s family has asked my family to host her cousins in the future years. We are excited for them to live with us and we expect it to be another great year with a great student.
It truly is a great experience to live with a student from another country and learn all about their culture and their country. We have had students from Germany, China, Mexico, and France live in our home and each year we are sad when we have to say good bye at the airport. I would suggest that people try this at least once in their lives; most people who have hosted once end up hosting several years in a row, one family in Leavenworth said they plan on doing this every year until they retire.
If you live in Leavenworth and want to contact the coordinator in that community please call Sandy VanCise (913) 758-1866 or email her Sandvan@excite.com and she will provide you with all the information you need and can answer any questions you have about the program.
If you aren’t from Leavenworth but are interested in hosting an exchange student then please visit one of these two websites. www.PAX.org or www.ASSE.com and start one of the greatest experiences of your life.