January 11, 2019

Greenheart seeking host families for Japanese students

By Elizabeth Richards

In March, Greenheart will once again bring a group of international exchange students to the area, this time for a short-term school experience. Kathy Hansen, a local coordinator for Greenheart, said the group of 25 students from Japan will arrive on March 2nd and depart March 12th.  The organization is seeking host families for these students.

Hosting a student for the ten days does not require anything special, and costs nothing aside from the cost of feeding the student, Hansen said. The students are coming to go to school, and don’t need to be entertained outside of school hours beyond what the family would normally be doing.  There is one trip to Boston arranged, Hansen said, but does not involve any responsibility for the host family.

Host families can be from almost anywhere in the local area, and they do not have to have children the same age as the exchange student. Single people or couples with no children are also welcome to host. Students can share a bedroom with a student of the same gender and similar age.

Greenheart arranges the school visit with the local district, and students can leave for school right from the home, either via school bus or with another family who is driving a student to school.
Hansen said that the experience is as valuable for the host families as it is for the exchange students.  They will learn more about Japanese culture, make a friend for life, and learn more about the world around them. “Instead of going to Japan, you get to bring Japan to your home for ten days,” Hansen said. Often, hosts are invited to visit the students they host at a later time, she added.

“People often don’t realize how much hosting an exchange student has to offer them,” Hansen said.  “I don’t think people realize how much impact it has on the family.”  Hosting is something people can do at almost no cost and is both educational and important to the global economy and building bridges of friendship throughout the world, Hansen said. Hosting helps build skills such as communicating, getting along with other people, and understanding other cultures, she added.

Although students won’t arrive until March, host families need to be identified as soon as possible.  If hosting the whole ten days is too much Hansen said they are open to having people host for part of the ten days as well.

Greenheart also has students who come for a semester or a year and hosting short-term is a good way to try it out. In the summer, they will have a group of students from France for a couple of weeks, so that is another good opportunity if hosting right now isn’t possible.

To become a host family, a short application is required. It can be accessed at https://www.tfaforms.com/236744. For more information, contact Hansen at khansen@greenheart.org.

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