Ayusa Ramps Up 2015 Search for American Families to Host Exchange Students in Virginia

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

Left to right: Host daughter Haley Morrison, host dad Bill Morrison and Ayusa student Carlo from Italy tour Washington, DC

We choose our students in early winter so we can Skype and Facebook to get to know each other before they arrive in our community during the summer ... they aren’t just exchange students – they become members of our family.

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 intensifying its annual search for families in Virginia 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:

  •     Spotsylvania, Louisa County
  •     Cumberland, Powhatan County, Amelia County
  •     James City, Prince George and Isle of Wright counties
  •     Hampton, Newport News, Portsmouth, Suffolk
  •     Lunenburg, Mecklenburg County
  •     Nelson County, Gladstone
  •     Appomattox; Prince Edward and Charlotte counties
  •     Danville

Ayusa hosts 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 creates 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.

Bill and April Morrison of Ridgeway, Virginia, have hosted exchange students for five years running so that Haley, their only child, would have a sibling and the entire family could learn about other cultures. They have hosted students from Germany, the Netherlands, Japan, Chile, Germany and Italy. “We choose our students in early winter so we can Skype and Facebook to get to know each other before they arrive in our community during the summer,” Bill explained. “For us, they aren’t just exchange students – they become members of our family.”

This past year, Haley’s senior year at Magna Vista High School, the Morrisons double-hosted with Esmee from the Netherlands and Carlo from Italy. Esmee returned to the Netherlands just before Christmas when she found out her grandfather had cancer, and was able to spend four days with him before he passed. Carlo was the first boy the Morrisons had hosted, and he had a stellar year. He was the kicker for the high school’s football team, which won its first state championship last December. Carlo’s family came from Italy at the end of the program to watch him graduate from Magna Vista High School. After that, both families went sightseeing together in Washington, D.C. Carlo said of his year in Ridgeway: “I hope my host family will remember me as a very easy-going guy who really liked diving into new experiences; that’s exactly what I did.”

“Virginia is a popular destination for Ayusa exchange students in the U.S.,” said Connie Coutu, Ayusa Regional Manager for the Northeast. “Host families are known for their hospitality as well as sharing the rich history of this beautiful and diverse state,” she noted. “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 Virginia 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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