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Foreign exchange students still need host families for the 2018-2019 school year

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – There are still a handful of hopeful foreign exchange students who need to be placed with a host family for the 2018-2019 school year.

Brenda Markin, a Council on International Education Exchange local coordinator, says the clock is ticking to find host homes before the school year gets too far underway.

She believes there isn’t awareness of this unfulfilled need within the community.

“It’s getting out the awareness of the need that we need host families. Host families come in all shapes and sizes. You don’t have to be a certain thing, a certain family,” she said.

Markin sets up booths at any event she can to help spread the word, which may lead to homes for the students.

She says there are several reasons why families don’t consider opening their doors.

“They're too busy, they don't have room, their kids are too young or their kids are just moving out," she said. "We're not asking anyone to entertain them. We're just asking them to be a family."

In the Michiana area, Markin says she is having trouble finding homes as Indiana schools are already in session and Michigan schools begin classes at the beginning of September.

Steven Porter is a host parent for a foreign exchange student at Riley High School in South Bend.

He said there are misconceptions about hosting a student for a year such as the expectation of financial output.

“These kids come to America, they have their own insurance, there's documentation from their parents to treat them for any healthcare issues they might have," he said. "As a family, we're not asked to put out a large amount of money."

When a foreign exchange student is taken in by a school then placed with a host family, it isn’t just the student who benefits.

Riley High School Principal Shawn Henderson, who is a big supporter of international education, said the schools benefit from the cultural differences these students bring.

“We so often try to learn from each other in our own city and our own state but this is an opportunity for us to learn from students outside this country," he said. "So the thing I've experienced -- they listen to the same music that our students listen to, they dress the same. You don't know if they're from the City of South Bend or from Spain."

If you would like to host a foreign exchange student for the year, contact Markin at studentexchangeusa@yahoo.com or call 574-993-6707.

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