After an unexpected life-altering medical setback and a misfortunate unforeseen change of living environment, two families were forced to rescind their home invitations to a pair of foreign exchange students due to arrive in California on August 3.

The nonprofit youth exchange organization, International Cultural Exchange Services (ICES), is working hard to try to find homes for the students to stay in Modesto. After several weeks of searching, they have turned their attention to Patterson, in hopes that a local family would be willing to host one of the foreign girls while she attends Patterson High School.

Marie-Lia, a 10th grader, will be arriving on August 3rd from Germany and does not even have a family to greet her at the airport.

Dana Haskill, a local coordinator for the International Cultural Exchange Services, said that she would even welcome a family to greet the students at the airport and give them a place to stay for a little while until she can relocate them to different home.

Marie has been studying English for 6 years, and has been looking forward to coming to California ever since she was accepted as part of the program last year. She is interested in writing, philosophy, piano, tennis, and is okay with host siblings and pets. She really looks forward to the “American family” experience, and would like to cook traditional German dishes for her host family as well.

The other exchange student who does not have a place to stay or family to greet her at the airport is 12th grader Elena, from Italy. Elena is fascinated with American culture, and the idea of attending a large school with lockers is something that she is very excited about. She comes from a small city in the South of Italy, and is very active. She dreams of being a cheerleader, loves cats, and says that she can be a “good daughter” to a host family. Elena is also an advanced English speaker.

Apart from being accomplished English speakers, Marie and Elena are exceptional students who have had to maintain certain grade standards before being eligible to study abroad.

“These girls want to experience the ‘American family.’ They are coming to see what it’s like in the United States. They want to do things like help out, cook, and they want to see what it’s like here. You don’t need much time, you just need to be willing to let them be a part of your family and have a way to get to and from school, whether that’s dropping them off, walking, or riding a bike,” said Haskill.

Host families just need to provide the students with a place to sleep, and meals for them while they are here. Haskill says that they just need to be incorporated into your family’s routine, and be treated like your own. Haskill also notes that often families are turned off by the financial aspect of hosting a student, thinking that maybe they have to support them financially while they are here; however, this is not true as the students still have a family overseas that supports them. The students have their own money, and if they happen to need more, it is often easy for their family to wire them what they need via direct deposit to their American debit cards.

Families who may be interested in inviting one of the students to stay at their homes need to have a head of the household who is at least 25 years or older, pass a criminal background check and have their home visited to make sure that they do indeed have a bed for the student to sleep on while they are here. Students are also able to share a room with another student, or member of the family of the same gender and age range.

For more information please contact Dana Haskill at 209-818-2533 or dhaskill@icesusa.org

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