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Exchange program looking for host families



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June 04, 2014 - By Meg Peters

Review Staff Writer  

   The North Oakland County chapter of EF High School Exchange year—a division of Education First, the world leader in international education—is on a quest to find caring, local families to host foreign exchange students for the upcoming school year.

    Students are between the ages of 15 and 18 years old and come from 13 countries: Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Japan, South Korea, Norway, Denmark, Spain, Thailand, the Netherlands, and Taiwan.

    In the last school year eight foreign exchange students participated in the Lake Orion High School foreign exchange program and stayed with local families.

    Interested host families should apply before the end of June if they are seeking an exchange student for the following school year, however they can apply at any time. Exchange students can come between six months and a full year. Interested families should contact the North Oakland EF coordinator Marybeth Buckbee directly at 248-393-1198, or by email marybeth.buckbee@efexchangeyear.

   "Host families really represent the diversity of American culture, coming from all kinds of economic, religious and social backgrounds," said Buckbee. "Some are parents looking to give their own children a glimpse of the world without having to travel themselves. Others have no children or their children have grown up and moved out, and they're looking for new ways to connect to their communities. Still others just want to help promote global understanding right in their own backyard. There are so many reasons why families welcome a student into their home."

   Buckbee has hosted six students in her time she has lived in Lake Orion. Originally from Pennsylvania, Buckbee has moved all over the Midwest and has even lived in Germany for several years where she visited one of her first exchange students.

    Her family hosted the German student while Buckbee was a child and she has remained in contact with him ever since.

    Most of all the students she has hosted have come back to the United States to visit with tales of their lives since the program while remembering their time in Lake Orion.

   One of her students became a true Dragon.

"It was wonderful, she became apart of the LO marching band. She got a letter jacket at the end of the year. It was the most phenomenal experience."

    Her next exchange student is the same age as her high school son, who will be joining the Buckbee team this August.

     "It's good for people to see that it's a big world out there, and that it just does not revolve around one person. Its' dynamic."

   Families can apply at any time at efexchangeyear.org. After applying Buckbee will perform a reference check, background check and a family interview. Then the school performs a one-page enrollment form depending on how many slots are still available. 

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