Ozark, AL - There may have been a bit of a language barrier, and a slight culture shock, but the Ozark community has embraced the opportunity to welcome three exchange students from around the world.
“It’s probably the best year of my life. I will be sad when I have to leave,” says Andi Sigl, exchange student from Germany.
That time is drawing near. The students from Italy, Germany and Hong Kong will leave in May.
Now exchange program leaders need others to open their hearts and their homes and become host families. A task that’s not always easy.
“To invite a complete stranger into your home, and then to treat them as one of your own family members, yeah it’s difficult. It stretches you a little bit, but it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do,” says Phillip Tyson Reed, Host Parent and International Exchange Coordinator.
“It can seem like a really big step, but the point is. There is a program behind that can support you,” says Francesco Serra di Santa Maria, exchange student from Italy.
Families are required to provide food, a bed, and transportation. Yet, many say what you get in return is worth the investment.
“Even if you’re 50 years old, you can learn a lot from teenagers,” say Sigl.
“I would say when you bring another culture in your house you may have some conflict, but I really learned a lot through this conflict and the happy times we had,” says Esther Tang, exchange student from Hong Kong.
“Do I have to make adjustments? Absolutely. Is it worth it? Yes,” says Reed.
An interest session for prospective host families will be held this Saturday.
Student exchange leaders will be at Moe’s in The Pavilion from 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m.
For more information: www.effoundation.org