Change Your Life This Summer: Host an Exchange Student
When I was twelve, my family hosted a Japanese girl named Megumi for one month during the summer through the Ohio 4-H International Program. Hosting challenged us all to communicate differently, show off our community, and open our hearts to new relationships. We learned so much about ourselves and had so much fun that the next year, my parents agreed to host a high school girl, Miyuki, for the whole year.
Miyuki became a lifelong friend that year, more like an older sister. She brought lots of laughter into our home and taught us to drink Japanese tea and rice. She traveled with us on a family vacation to Arizona and delighted in experiencing American customs.
The summer Miyuki went home to Japan, I traveled there for a two month exchange. At the young age of fourteen I stayed with Japanese families I had never met, traveled Tokyo subways and trains by myself, and experienced with wide innocent eyes the beauty of Japan.
Five years ago when I was pregnant with Lil, Alex and I hosted a Japanese adult chaperone in our home. Naoko pampered me and I loved it. Having her spend a month with us was the perfect excuse to go visit places in Ohio we love but rarely make the time to visit, like Serpent Mound and Hocking Hills.
We traveled to Japan as a family in 2007 to visit our friends. It was an exhausting trip with a toddler but what an experience! Exploring temples, trains, sushi, and subways are memories we will hold dear forever.
Last summer, another chaperone, Kayoko, stayed with us. As often as I can, I volunteer with the Ohio 4-H International Program helping with exchangee orientation and departure, presentations at the state fair, transportation and more.
As you might expect, these experiences have changed my life for the better. I now have friends as close as family in a country around the other side of the world. Lil is showered by gifts from Japan on her birthday and New Years. I know a little of the language and can speak from experience about the Japanese culture.
What's it to you?
I want you to consider hosting a Japanese exchange student. The Ohio 4-H International program is recruiting families right now for their exchange program with the LABO Japanese organization. This exchange is renowned for the quality support staff and host families overwhelmingly say the hosting experience is a positive one.
The month long exchange program places 12 - 17 year old Japanese youth with families who have a child of approximately the same age. Families with or without children can host the college students and adult chaperones who travel with the group. For 2010, the Japanese students will be in Ohio July 23 - August 18.
The first host family matches will be made in early March and continue until the last exchangee is placed, usually in mid May. All the details about the program are found in the Programs Booklet (another .pdf). Please consider filling out an application (link opens .pdf) today!