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

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

Left to right: Host dad John Rearick, exchange student Nadia from Ecuador and host mom Maxine share a light moment at home in Conway, SC

... Nadia has been back to visit her host family five times, including once with her sister and mother. . . .and may return next month when the couple will greet their second exchange student, Pilar from Chile.

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 South 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:

  •     Charleston
  •     Columbia
  •     Myrtle Beach
  •     Orangeburg
  •     Augusta, GA

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 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.

John and Maxine Rearick of Conway, South Carolina, hosted Nadia from Ecuador two years ago. They had such a great time and bonded so well that Nadia has been back to visit her host family five times, including once with her sister and mother. In fact, Nadia still has her own room at the Rearicks, and may return next month when the couple will greet their second exchange student, Pilar from Chile. “I’ve introduced the idea of Nadia and her sister coming when Pilar arrives in August, to help Pilar acclimate to a new language and culture,” said Maxine. “We’ve kept Nadia’s room just as she left it, with some of her personal things; we’ll put Pilar in another bedroom, so both the girls can feel at home,” she continued. She added that both girls have been in touch with each other via the Internet and that “this has created a lot of excitement.” Pilar’s comment: “It will be like having a big pajama party!”

One South Carolina representative for Ayusa, Charlotte Galton, first contacted the organization in 2001 as a volunteer host, with a desire to promote world peace. Joining the company in 2002 seemed a natural use of her background in social work. “I've always had an interest in traveling and other cultures, so this program fit very well with my personal interests,” Charlotte said. "I love to see the bonding that takes place between students and their host family, and am so impressed with the long-term results of that: being invited to visit other countries, attend weddings, meeting the spouses and children of their exchange students." Charlotte worked with the Rearicks and looks forward to helping other South Carolina families become involved; she personally has hosted three former students, with whom she still maintains contact.

“South Carolina is a popular destination for Ayusa exchange students in the U.S.,” said Jess Hodge, 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 South Carolina. 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 South 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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