Last updated: July 18. 2013 7:07PM - 126 Views
Jack Latta
Staff Writer

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PRESTONSBURG — Every year, thousands of high school aged children try to come to America to spend one year attending a typical American high school. The Education First Foundation for Foreign Study has been helping students achieve those goals for years, and they need new volunteers to provide homes for young people from all over the world.

On Thursday, Valerie Clark, international exchange coordinator for EF, gave a presentation on the program in the Gearheart Auditorium of Big Sandy Community and Technical College.

Clark, a local businessperson who became a host parent in 2001, is hoping to get more people interested in being a host parents for foreign-exchange students.

“All they want to do is live the American dream,” Clark said of the students from around the world. “It’s a lifelong dream of these students to come to America and go to school for a year.”

According to Clark, there are currently 370 students waiting without homes for this school year and the deadline of Sept. 14 is fast approaching.

“These students have been waiting a long time,” said Clark.

EF Foundation is a non-profit high school exchange program working with 30 different countries to facilitate bringing students age 15-18 to the United States. Students come with their own spending money, are fully insured, and spend a semester or academic year with their non-paid host families.

Clark says parents are often hesitant to sign up to be a host family because of the perceived costs involved with taking in another family member. “In today’s economy that’s one of the biggest worries, that you’re going to have to pay for these kids,” said Clark.

Clark says the students who participate in the program have their own money. “Host parents don’t have to pay for prom dresses, movie tickets, football game tickets,” said Clark. “They have their own money.”

Clark says that the only responsibilities placed on host parents are to provide a private bed, three meals a day, transportation to and from activities, and “most of all, love.”

For more information on hosting a foreign exchange student visit www.effoundation.org, or contact Valerie Clark at valclark@mikrotec.com.

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