Ayusa Launches 2015 Search for American Families to Host Exchange Students in North Carolina

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Ayusa International is currently seeking volunteer U.S. host families in North Carolina interested in hosting a foreign exchange student for the upcoming 2015-2016 school year.

Marin in Smithfield, NC, 2014-2015

Ayusa high school exchange student from Tokyo, Marin, 16, presents her Smithfield, NC host family with Southern-style pancakes for breakfast.

These thee girls…were not guests in our home. They are our Japanese daughters.

Ayusa International, a non-profit organization that has promoted global learning and leadership through high school student cultural exchanges for more than 34 years, is kicking off its annual search for families in North Carolina interested in hosting international students for the 2015-2016 school year.

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

  •     Asheville
  •     Charlotte
  •     Raleigh-Durham
  •     Greenville

Ayusa host families who open their home to exchange students contribute to the global community as public diplomats for greater international understanding. Each host family and student create a lasting relationship that spans the cultural differences between their two nations.

Ayusa 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.

James and Ginger Gatlin of Smithfield are retired educators and empty nesters – and they missed having connections with young people, whether their own family or pupils. Two years ago they decided to try hosting high school foreign exchange students and contacted Ayusa International. James was partial to a Japanese student because, as the son of a career U.S. Air Force airman, he spent more than seven years of his childhood in Japan and feels like it’s his second home. The Gatlins hosted Rina,18, from Gumma, Japan in 2013; followed by Yuka, also 18, from Chiba, Japan, the following year. This year’s exchange student is Marin, 16, from Tokyo’s Shinagawa neighborhood.

Says James: “These three girls, all of whom attended Smithfield-Selma High School, were not guests in our home. They are our Japanese daughters. They call themselves ‘The Santa Claus Club’ because of my white beard. Before Marin came to the U.S., the three girls got together in Japan, met, talked, laughed, shared and took pictures. We have stayed in contact with Rina and Yuka since they returned home. We chat/text each other almost daily, and they all vow to return ‘home’ in the future. Ginger and I also promise to visit Japan one day soon to visit these three young ladies, and let and their families show us their Japan.”

“North Carolina is a popular destination for Ayusa exchange students in the U.S.,” said Jess Swisher, Ayusa Regional Manager for the Southeast. “Our southern host families are known for their warmth and hospitality in sharing the rich history and traditions of North Carolina,” she added. “Hosting an exchange student also allows families to learn about other countries and cultures, without the travel. If you’ve ever thought about sharing your North Carolina lifestyle with a student from abroad, I encourage you to give us a call, or check out our website to read the many stories of these international friendships that last a lifetime!”

Host families provide the exchange student with three meals a day and a bedroom (private or shared). A professionally trained Ayusa representative supports each host family, student, and local school throughout the program year. Ayusa’s exchange students are 15-18 years old and come from more than 60 countries around the world. All students are fully insured, bring their own spending money and are proficient in English.

How to Host an International Student
Interested families can learn more about the program and available exchange students, and request additional information by visiting http://www.ayusa.org or calling 1-888-552-9872.

The process to apply is simple. Families complete the online application, which includes questions about themselves and local high school, references, and a background check. Once the application is submitted, the local Ayusa Community Representative will conduct an in-home interview. They can also help each family with any questions they may have about the application or process.

After families are fully approved, they can select the Ayusa student they would like to host.

About Ayusa
Ayusa International (http://www.ayusa.org) is a 501(c)3 non-profit student exchange organization founded in 1981 and an official U.S. Department of State designated Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor. In addition, Ayusa administers 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 provides 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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