Host families needed

by Ann van Engelen

Showing international students the Kiwi culture is something many families have experienced through Student Exchange Australia New Zealand, and the organisation is now seeking more volunteer hosts for the 2020 year.

“I have been finding volunteer host families for more than 17-years, and it is very rewarding for all concerned,” says Student Exchange Australia New Zealand facilitator Sandra Harders.

“We look for people all over New Zealand who are willing to share their homes with young people on the programme who come to experience a different culture.”

The programme is voluntary with no money exchanged.

“The students become part of the family and are expected to do the same chores as family members. We are expecting 40 visitors in the July programme from countries such as Finland, Austria, Spain, Germany, Italy, Japan and Sweden.

They want to experience different cultures and expand their English speaking skills. There is a five or 10-month programme as well as a short-term opportunity during May.

“It is a very rewarding experience. I had a student 19-years ago, and he still visits me every two years. A lot of families host to give their children a chance to interact with different cultures and expand their life experience — some hosts have no children at all.

“We are a non-profit organisation, and when someone enquires I personally call them and organise their police check prior to approval as we have a strict duty of care policy. The visiting student’s family pays for their costs and spending.

“Host families are sent student profiles to choose from, and some people are hosting their 12th student as they enjoy learning different cultures and showing off their part of the world. People often visit places locally that they otherwise wouldn’t and find this very rewarding and the visiting students often stay friends for years to come.”

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