• By April Bowman
  • Posted Thursday, April 2, 2009

Host Families Sought for 4-H International Exchange Program

Local families are needed to host Japanese exchange students, ages 12 to 18, for four weeks this summer as part of a two-way exchange program sponsored by 4-H. N.C. 4-H is looking for 22 families to host students from Japan during the summer, July 24 – August 20. There are also opportunities to host Norwegian students, July 1-30, Costa Rican students, June 21-July18 and Finnish students, June 14-July 12. This is a great way for young people to learn about another country and culture.

The program is open to families with children of the same gender and within 2 years age of the exchange students. Families without children in this age range can be considered as hosts for the adult chaperones from Japan. All exchange students must have their own bed. Host families are responsible for all meals and transportation including pick up and return for the child. Health insurance is provided. Families must complete an application, submit 3 non-family references, and sign a disclosure in order to have a criminal background check for all family members 18 years old or older living in the home. In addition, local Extension staff must conduct an in-home interview with the family (all members present).

You don’t have to be a 4-H member host; you just need a willingness to share your home and your world. There is no need to know Japanese. The students have all studied English and are anxious to use it.

The program gives host families a chance to share their culture, friendship, and family life with an exchange student and at the same time learn about Japanese life. The homestays only last a month during the summer vacation, but the effects last a lifetime.

This 4-H Japanese Exchange program is one of the largest exchange programs involving North American and Japanese youth in the world. Since it was begun in 1972 some 43,000 students have stayed with families in over 39 states, including North Carolina, and more than 7,000 American students have made reciprocal visits to Japan.

Information about the 2009 Japanese Exchange Students may be found here. Host applications for the program are available through 4-H, NC Cooperative Extension, Forsyth County Center at 1450 Fairchild Road, Winston-Salem. Questions may be directed to April Bowman, Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development, Forsyth County at (336) 703-2855.

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