Lighting peace candles is a wonderfully symbolic thing to do but peace itself is built from millions of personal connections. Sometimes making those connections involve sacrifices but few provide a return on investment like hosting a student from abroad. Ask any Rotarian who has hosted a student. But bringing a stranger into you home and providing room and board can look like a major sacrifice.
Janene Tompkins introduced our Club again to Fern Piromsantikorn from Thailand, the current visiting exchange student. Janene and her Co-Chair, Shannon Leskin and currently interviewing families to host Fern for 3 months each. Shannon developed the guidelines below. Host families do not need to be Rotary Families. Consider passing the information along to others in your network of friends and families for consideration.
As you all know from Janene’s presentation at the club meeting Monday, we have had two families back out of hosting Fern. Both for personal reasons and not because of the program. Janene and I have exhausted our personal contacts, so we are asking our club to reach out to our networks to find host families. The particulars are as follows:
- Fern is enrolled at Riverside High School. She is doing well in her academic studies. The family should be in that district. One note, Fern is currently in a carpool in Trinity Park and if we can find a familes in that neighborhood she can stay in the carpool. It is not necessary, just want anyone in Trinity Park to know that carpool is not an issue.
- We need two families. One for January until mid-March and the second mid-March until June when school is over and she goes home. The dates can be flexible and will be coordinated once we secure the two families.
- As you all know, Rotary is affiliated with the ESSEX Youth Exchange: www.exchangestudent.org and there is a button on the left side for “host family” information. I have copied the responsibilities from the website, but please go to the site for complete information.
- The host families do not have to be Rotarian’s. They do not have to have teenage children. Actually, families with smaller children can be a really rich experience and I think that Fern, in particular, would love to be around younger children.
- Fern is a lovely girl, and the family she is currently staying with has told me that she is quiet, loves to try new foods, and has become a part of the family. She is staying with them through Thanksgiving and the Christmas season because they really want her to experience their family traditions.
Host family responsibilities (from the ESSEX website www.exchangestudent.org, please see the site for complete details)
As a Rotary Youth Exchange host family, it is your responsibility to provide room and board for your exchange student. You are also expected to exercise general parental supervision over the student just as you would your own children, and involve him or her in daily household chores and activities.
However, most host families’ involvement with their student does not stop at room and board. The families often share their native background while also learning about their visitors’ culture. This does not mean that you have to arrange elaborate entertainment, but simply make the student a part of your family. Give him or her the opportunity to share in the same aspects of your family life that most teenage students experience in your culture.
Thank you, Shannon and Janene