Lend a Hand and Expand Your Life: Host a Foreign Student

by Lindsay Bongi

What if someone told you there was a way to contribute to world peace,
expose your family to a new culture without ever leaving your home and make someone’s dream come true? Does this sound too good to be true?

Each year, Academic Year in America (AYA) offers this opportunity to American families. Each year, AYA brings more than 1,000 students age 15 to 18 1/2 to the United States. With AYA’s tailored matching system, families have the unique opportunity to find a student who will be the perfect fit for their household.

Students come from more than 30 countries, such as Germany, Brazil, France, Italy and South Africa and have a multitude of diverse talents and interests.  I have hosted two students who have attended Pearl River High School and they have each made a impact on my family's and the community's lives.  Our student Mohamed from Egypt played travel soccer and taught my kids to play the game.  Annika from Germany was a key member of the girls varsity swimming team this year.  

Bringing an international student into your home is an excellent way to give your family a “world view” of a different culture, according to host dad Tim McMahon, whose family has hosted five AYA students.

“The result is that my children have made friends and traveled around the globe,” McMahon said.

There are several key elements to the hosting experience. For five or 10 months, host families must provide their student with two meals a day and a place to sleep and study. Most importantly, they must welcome their student into their home as if they were a son or daughter. 

AYA is a not-for-profit organization designated by the U.S. Department of State to offer J-1 visas to international students. 

To learn more about hosting an exchange student with AYA, call Lindsay Bongi at 845-664-4127, or e-mail lindsaythomas@yahoo.com. Visit AYA on the web at Academic Year in America - Host an International Exchange Student


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