Would you like to host an exchange student from Spain this summer?
If so, Sherree Bowman wants to talk to you.
She’s the area program leader for Education First, a nonprofit organization in 55 nations that teaches foreign students English.
So far Bowman has been able to place 24 Spanish students plus three adult chaperones in homes for July 1-19, but still needs homes for 10 more students.
The deadline is June 1.
“A lot of families who have hosted students before couldn’t do it this time,” Bowman said. “Some lost jobs or lost their homes and moved out of the area.”
It was a significant drop -- of 44 host homes, only six remain.
The students are aged 13-18, come from all over Spain and will be immersed in our society during their stay.
“They’ve been waiting a long time for this visit,” Bowman said. “A lot of them live inland and can’t wait to see the ‘ocean.’ ”
The Gulf of Mexico, that is.
Guess where their No. 1 field trip destination is?
“They all requested Disney World,” Bowman said. “Some of our host families have passes to Busch Gardens, so I’m sure they’ll do that. They’ll also visit our parks maybe take in a baseball game, and go to the South Florida Museum to see Snooty.”
Host families get to pick their students after they see student profiles -- photos, personalities, hobbies, medical records -- as well as parents names and occupations.
Among the details for prospective host families:
n They only host one student because students are totally immersed in an English-speaking home.
n Teens in host families can earn 45 community service hours needed for many scholarships for hosting a Spanish student.
n Families receive discounts on future travel.
n Students are insured and bring their own spending money.
n Families just provide three meals a day, a bed and transportation to Education First events.
“Many of these students dream about coming to the United States,” Bowman said. “They have studied English and are anxious to spend this time learning first hand about our family life, culture and community.”
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.
HOW TO HELP
If you’d like to host a student, call 545-7300. Or visit www.efhomestay.org or www.ef.com.