Ayusa Steps Up Search for American Families to Host Exchange Students in South Carolina

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

Paul Van Dine, left, exchange student Mikheil Matcharadze and Carol Van Dine share a family moment in Chapin

Mikheil was very outgoing and smart so he made friends easily ... he pitched in around the house and in the school and church communities too -- everyone loved him.

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, continues its annual search for families in South Carolina interested in hosting international students for the 2014-2015 school year.

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

  •     Columbia
  •     Irmo
  •     Lexington
  •     Myrtle Beach

Paul and Carol Van Dine of Chapin have been enthusiastic participants in Ayusa’s exchange student program, taking in four students over the past several years. They have a long relationship with one student in particular, Mikheil Matcharadze from the Republic of Georgia, who stayed with the Van Dines and attended Chapin High School as a junior in 2006-2007. “Mikheil was very outgoing and smart so he made friends easily at the school,” Carol recalled. “He pitched in around the house and in the school and church communities too – everyone loved him.”

Mikheil returned to his homeland, graduated and struggled to find employment in his dream career of healthcare. He kept in touch with the Van Dines, who encouraged him to pursue his aspirations. After several applications, Mikheil was accepted at Berea College in Kentucky in the nursing program. This past spring he graduated, and present at the ceremony was his Ayusa American family, Paul and Carol. “It was like seeing our own child graduating – he worked hard to create his own American Dream,” said Carol. Mikheil, now working as an RN and pursuing graduate studies at Berea, still travels to see the Van Dine family on his vacations and holidays.

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.

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 and criminal background check 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 – and an 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, the Netherlands, Morocco, China, and Spain. All students are fully insured, bring their own spending money, and are proficient in English.

“South Carolina is a popular state for Ayusa exchange students visiting the U.S., perhaps because of the host families’ Southern hospitality in welcoming cultures from around the world,” said Patricia Balli, Ayusa regional manager for the Southeastern U.S. “If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like sharing your South Carolina 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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