HOLLANSBURG – Darke County may seem like a remote place in the United States, but students from six different countries, along with their host families, recently gathered to enjoy a delicious meal together. High school exchange students through the International Student Exchange (ISE) program are once again attending classes in local schools in an effort to bring the world together one student and host family at a time.
“I didn’t know how sweet everyone would be and how nice they are. It’s better than I dreamed it would be, and I already had high expectations,” commented Isabela from Brazil.
This school year students have come from Brazil, Germany, Mexico, South Korea, Thailand, and Spain. They are enrolled at Franklin-Monroe, Greenville, and Tri-Village.
Heather Brown, the area representative for ISE, has been placing high school exchange students in Darke County schools for the past 17 years. During that time, more than 100 foreign students from 25 different countries have lived with local host families. “It excites me to see host families connect with a child from another country and make them a member of their own family. So many American families maintain contact long after the student returns to their home country.”
Steve and Sally Evers are one family that has chosen to host multiple times. “We decided to host again because our last experience was beyond our expectations. We consider her part of the family.” Their daughter even had the opportunity to travel to Germany to visit their first student for several weeks and then the student returned to Greenville again to attend the Darke County Fair.
Another family who is hosting for their second time, Justin and Nicki Sommer, had the following to say. “We are an active family who believe experiences are important for all of us. It’s a good opportunity not only for the exchange student to experience a different culture, but also for our children to be exposed to the way people live in other areas of the world.”
The fall gathering was a time for all of the students and host families to meet one another and to share unique aspects of their culture. Each student was asked to prepare a traditional or favorite food dish from their country. There were a variety of rice dishes, corn, meats, and desserts to sample. One student, from South Korea, also presented a dance from her culture.
First-time host family, Brian and Christy Bugher have enjoyed getting to watch their student play soccer and getting to know the other exchange students as well. For them it has been a rewarding experience and would encourage others to consider hosting.
Axl, from Mexico, said that, “This is one of the best experiences that I’ll ever have. From this experience I’ll be ready to start a new stage of my life, learning new things, new people and more about myself.”
In spite of having some realistic uncertainties about being an exchange student and living with a new family whose lifestyle might be too different, Laura from Germany had the following to say. “The only thing I can say is that I never expected that I would understand myself so well with my host family and that I would meet so many new and interesting people. I also couldn’t imagine anything better than to collect more great and unforgettable memories in the USA.”
Families interested in learning more about hosting a high school exchange student, either for a semester or an entire school year, may contact Heather Brown at 937-997-2209. Host families are always needed and are being sought for the 2020-21 school year. Open your heart and your home to an exciting adventure by bringing the world to you through a student.