GENESEE COUNTY — Foreign high school students are scheduled to arrive soon for academic semester and year homestay programs, and the sponsoring organization needs a few more local host families. The students are anxiously awaiting news of their new families. These young ambassadors are looking forward to fulfilling their life-long dreams.
According to Pacific Intercultural Exchange (P.I.E.) President, John Doty, the students are all between the ages of 15 and 18 years, are English-speaking, have their own spending money, carry accident and health insurance, and want to share their cultural experiences with their new American families.
P.I.E. currently has programs to match almost every family’s needs, ranging in length from one semester to a full academic year, where the students attend local public and private high schools. “At this critical time in our country’s history, hosting an international teen is the best and purest form of public diplomacy the United States has,” said Doty.
P.I.E. area representatives match students with host families by finding common interests and lifestyles through an in-home meeting. Prospective host families are able to review student applications and select the perfect match. As there are no “typical” host families, P.I.E. can fit a student into just about any situation, whether it is a single parent, a childless couple, a retired couple or a large family.
Families who host for P.I.E. are also eligible to claim a monthly charitable contribution deduction on their itemized tax returns for each month they host a sponsored student.
For the upcoming programs, P.I.E. has students from Germany, the Former Soviet Union, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Hungary, Croatia, Korea, Mexico, Slovakia, China, and many other countries.
P.I.E. is also participating in a special government-funded program to bring scholarship students from the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union to live in American communities.
P.I.E. is a non-profit educational organization that has sponsored more than 25,000 students from 45 countries since its founding in 1975. The organization is designated by the United States Department of State and is listed by the Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), certifying that the organization complies with the standards set forth in CSIET’s Standards for International Educational Travel Programs.
Doty encourages families to contact the program immediately, as it will allow the proper time for the students and hosts to get to know one another before they actually meet for the first time.
Families interested in learning more about student exchange or arranging for a meeting with a community representative may call P.I.E., toll-free, at 1-866-546-1402.
The agency also has travel/study program opportunities available for American high school students as well as possibilities for community volunteers to assist and work with area host families, students and schools. — G.G.