Modesto resident Carol Berger thinks that the best way to learn about other cultures is to actually live with someone from another culture and foster a long-lasting relationship in the process. As a local representative for Cultural Homestay International, Berger and her family are looking to provide this opportunity through the longstanding nonprofit cultural exchange organization, which is currently seeking families to invite a foreign exchange student to live with them in their home during the upcoming school year.
“You get to learn about different cultures you may not have had a chance to experience before,” said Berger.
Founded in 1980, Cultural Homestay International promotes an “international understanding and goodwill through people-to-people exchanges.” More than 250,000 students and young adults from over 100 countries have taken part of the program since its inception.
When it comes to the 2017-2018 school year, Berger said that there were about 80 foreign exchange students looking for host families nationwide as of Monday. Berger said that she and her daughter Susan Berger, and her husband, Tom Berger, will oversee foreign exchange students and their host families within a 120-mile radius of their Modesto home.
“We’re looking for as many host families as we can,” said Berger.
As hosts, families are responsible for providing room, board and guidance to their foreign student. The nonprofit organization invites all potential families to apply, including couples, single parents and families with or without children living at home.
“They can be single parents or empty nesters or seniors. We are just looking for family-oriented people and a loving environment,” said Berger.
As for the students, each comes with their own medical insurance and spending money from parents. Berger also said that each student is expected to bear their share in all household responsibilities, normal activities and lifestyles.
“They go to school like a typical teenager. They hang out with their friends, they do their homework,” said Berger. “Host families are expected to treat them just like one of their own family members and give them household chores, such as taking out the trash and doing the dishes.”
Berger said that families who apply for Cultural Homestay International undergo a home screening process where a local area representative visits their home. Berger and her family will find out the family’s interests and preferences to best match them with a foreign exchange student, and families are given the final say as to which foreign exchange student they will host.
For more information about hosting an exchange student or about Cultural Homestay International, call 1-877-737-0409 or visit the website, chinet.org.