ACADEMIC YEAR EXCHANGE STUDENT PROGRAM
End of August - middle of June
Hosting a full academic year exchange student might fit into your family's lifestyle really well! The students come just before the school year starts, and go to classes at the local high school throughout the year. They participate in all the activities any high school student does: sports, arts, community events. Then, they go home shortly after the school year closes. Host families provide housing and food; they come with health insurance and spending money.
SUMMER SPANISH EXCHANGE STUDENT PROGRAM (STEP)
Spanish teenagers end of June to mid-July
A group of Spanish teens arrives the end of June each summer, staying for three and a half weeks in southern Vermont, western Massachusetts and western New Hampshire.
Host families provide housing and food. The students come with health insurance and spending money--and enthusiasm! Their goal is to be immersed in our culture and the English language, and they happily join in all your family's activities.
The program plans three trips (Six Flags, Boston and the mall) that all the students usually attend--and host families and friends can also join in! Transportation is provided on motor coach for these days. Other fun gatherings--like a welcome picnic, going to the drive-in movies in Northfield, Massachusetts or swimming at Spofford Lake--are all optional.
If you are interested in hosting, please let us know! It's never too early to get on the list!
Last year, my family was not going to host. It was just going to be something that I organized, and my family was going to participate occasionally in some of the events. But, we ended up hosting when another family couldn't do it very close to the deadline.
I'd honestly say that hosting Jon, our "Spanish-son-for-the-summer", was easily one of the highlights. Why?
I loved watching all three of my kids reach out and purposely be welcoming. One invited Jon to go fishing, another asked him to go for a walk with the dogs. Another would seek him out for card games on a lazy summer's afternoon. Our family remembered how much fun some of those "boring things" really are--like the simple joys of eating lunch overlooking the river or roasting marshmallows over an open fire. Seeing our area through Jon's eyes made us realize how wonderful an area we live in. Encouraging my children to utilize their school-learned Spanish language skills in a real way meant that now they are thinking about how useful this could be in life.
Each family's experience is unique and no one is completely perfect. (I would have preferred to never visit hospitals with Jon!) But I am sure that if you can host, you, too, will be amazed at what the experience will mean for you and your family!
Jill Stahl Tyler, Brattleboro, VT
Eight years ago, we hosted Koldo. This proved to be life-changing for our family. After only a few days of having him in our home, we realized what an extraordinary experience we were having. Since we were unable to live abroad for an extended period of time, having Koldo in our house was the next best thing.
Our conversations covered every topic imaginable. We enjoyed comparing life in Spain to lie in the United States. Having him with us allowed for many of these conversations, giving our family a great understanding and respect for the Basque region of Spain.
Koldo returned to us for three consecutive summers, followed by our son traveling to Spain to live with his family the following three summers. To top it off, my husband and I traveled to Bilbao, Spain, to meet Koldo's family, and see this wonderful culture for ourselves. We highly recommend that, if you have the opportunity to host a student, you seize the chance.
Debbie Bunker, Brattleboro, VT