Ayusa Kicks Off Search for American Families to Host Exchange Students in Minnesota

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Ayusa International is currently seeking volunteer U.S. host families in Minnesota interested in hosting a foreign exchange student for the upcoming 2014-2015 school year.

Back row: The Roubineck family of Lakeville, with host parents Jacob and Amanda; front row, Ayusa student "Winnie" Hsin-Yi from Taiwan with host son Edward

It's great to learn how other cultures work and how they are different from ours. Winnie can teach us things we don't know, and we teach her things she didn't know. . . we help each other.

Ayusa International, a non-profit organization that for 31 years has promoted global learning and leadership through high school student cultural exchanges and leadership programs, is launching its annual search for families in Minnesota interested in hosting international students for the 2014-2015 school year.

Ayusa is looking for Minnesota host families throughout the entire state, and specifically in and around the following communities:

  •     Minneapolis/St. Paul
  •     Duluth, Brainerd
  •     Rush City, Cambridge, St. Cloud
  •     Mankato, Faribault
  •     Marshall

The Roubineck family of Lakeville is thrilled with their high school exchange student, Hsin-Yi “Winnie” from Taiwan. “Winnie has really enjoyed becoming a part of our family – beyond coming for the school experience,” said host mom Amanda Roubineck. “She has joined us on vacation and family celebrations, and she is eager to try anything new – she’s has not turned down an opportunity yet. One of our favorite memories with Winnie was celebrating the Chinese New Year. She brought a special ink and paintbrush-like pen, and then wrote special family blessings in Chinese symbols for us to hang in our home this year.” The Roubineck’s son, 12-year-old Edward, added, “It’s great to learn how other cultures work and how they are different from ours. Winnie can teach us things we don’t know, and we teach her things she didn’t know. . .we help each other.”

Ayusa (which stands for “Academic Year in the USA”) works with diverse families who are interested in hosting an international student of high school age. Families without children, empty nesters, military families, retirees, and single people are all welcome. Ayusa families come from all 50 states and reside in rural, suburban and urban communities. Host families provide three meals a day and a bedroom (either private or shared). Each exchange student is supported by a professionally trained local representative from Ayusa who works closely with the family, student and local school throughout the program. In addition to my life at Lakeville High School and with the Roubinecks, I really enjoy all the activities Ayusa organizes for its students to get to know each other,” said Winnie. “I have been able to experience things like skiing, sledding, playing in the snow and horseback riding – things I would never have been able to do in Taiwan.”

How to Host an International Student
Families interested in hosting an exchange student with Ayusa can follow three simple steps:

  •     Step One: View information online about Ayusa’s program and types of students that are interested in living with a host family and spending a year in the United States.
  •     Step Two: Complete your Ayusa application for hosting, which can be done online. Ayusa will provide a list of questions about families and their local high school, request five references, and ask family candidates to sign a program agreement. An Ayusa representative can help complete the application, answer any questions and connect potential host families with other host families in a specific community.
  •     Step Three: Once the application is submitted, an Ayusa representative will assist with completion of the additional hosting requirements – a criminal background check and in-home interview with an Ayusa representative. Once a host family is approved, they may login to select a student. Ayusa representatives can also help find a student to match a family’s specific interests and activities.

Ayusa’s exchange students are 15-18 years old and come from more than 60 countries around the world, including Brazil, Japan, Germany, Ecuador, France, Peru, Morocco, China, and Spain. All students are fully insured, bring their own spending money, and are proficient in English.

“Minnesota is one of the top destinations for Ayusa exchange students visiting the U.S.; they may be drawn to the multitude of recreational options offered in our “Land of a Thousand Lakes,” revel in the natural beauty of the land, or feel welcomed by our Midwestern hospitality,” said Jessica Anderson, Ayusa regional manager for the Midwestern states. “Hosting an exchange student also provides Minnesota families the chance to learn about other cultures around the globe, without the travel. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like sharing your Minnesota lifestyle with a student from abroad, now is the time to take action – please give us a call to start building an international friendship that will last a lifetime!”

According to The Council on Standards for International Educational Travel (CSIET), more than 27,000 international high school students between the ages of 15 and 18 years old studied in the U.S. during 2013-2014 as part of U.S. government-sponsored international exchange programs. Ayusa has been a member of CSIET for more than 25 years – since its foundation. CSIET evaluates U.S.-based high school exchange programs so that students, families and schools can identify reputable inbound and outbound exchange organizations.

Ayusa is a 501(c)3, and an official U.S. Department of State designated Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor. Families interested in learning more about hosting a foreign exchange student can visit http://www.ayusa.org or call 1-888-552-9872.

About Ayusa
Ayusa International (http://www.ayusa.org) is a non-profit organization founded in 1981 to promote global learning and leadership through cultural exchange and leadership programs for high school students from the U.S. and around the world. In addition, Ayusa administers multiple high profile grant programs funded by the U.S. Department of State and other organizations. Ayusa is a sister company of Intrax, a family of organizations that provide a lifetime of high-quality educational, work and volunteer programs that connect people and cultures. Intrax is headquartered in San Francisco with offices on four continents.

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Patsy Barich
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