I’m struck this year by the difficulties foreign exchange student programs in the United States seem to be having in finding host families; at least, that’s the sense here in Oregon. There are many more openings today in mid-August at many more schools than one would expect so late in the foreign exchange student placement process.
Is it the economy? Is it a regional issue? Is it lack of information that’s available for potential families? Is it misunderstanding about what’s required and what support you will get if something goes wrong? Is it something else entirely? Or is it just that people are not making their decisions on this until the very last minute?
Having a foreign-born teenager in your home for 5 or 10 months is certainly a more involved process than deciding what to have for dinner. And it’s definitely not the right thing to do for every family; even families who are enthusiastic about hosting exchange students don’t necessarily do it every year. But it’s also a fact that thousands of families in the U.S. have participated successfully in exchange programs for years, have established lasting relationships around the world, and have gained a son or daughter in the process as well as a better understanding of other cultures.
What’s the difference this year? I would be interested in hearing from people on this topic. Send me your comments.