Ayusa Kicks Off 2016 Search for American Families to Host Exchange Students in Florida

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Ayusa International is currently seeking volunteer U.S. families in Florida interested in hosting a foreign exchange student for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year.

L to R: Barry Lucas (host dad), Justin Masciarelli, Meghan Masciarelli, Camden Masciarelli, Lorena Lucas (host mom), Kaoru (Ayusa exchange student), Jr-Rong (Melody) (friend/another Ayusa student).

From the moment she walked through our door, [Ayusa exchange student] Kaoru loved my grandsons as if they were her family.

Ayusa International, a non-profit organization that has promoted global learning and leadership through high school student cultural exchanges for more than 35 years, is launching its annual search for families in Florida, with a special emphasis on the Hillsborough and Pasco County families interested in hosting international students for the 2016-2017 school year.

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

  •     Hillsborough County, Lakeland
  •     Pasco County
  •     Clearwater/St. Petersburg
  •     Daytona Beach
  •     Miami, Ft. Lauderdale
  •     Ft. Meyers, Naples
  •     Orlando
  •     Pensacola
  •     St. Augustine
  •     West Palm Beach

Ayusa host families who volunteer to 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.

The Lucas family from Zephyrhills has been hosting Kaoru from Japan, who attends Zephyrhills High School. Host mom Lorena Lucas shares: “When we selected our student for this year, we hoped to find someone who was great with children. From the moment she walked through our door, Kaoru loved my grandsons as if they were her family,” she said. “I think it’s worked out so well with the babies and her because they have no language barrier – a smile is universal, and they are all fluent!” she exclaimed. Lorena added that from the moment Kaoru arrives home from school, the oldest grandson rushes to play with her, and that sometimes he prefers her to hold him instead of family members. “I know he will miss her very much when she leaves!” Lorena said.

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 over the country and reside in rural, suburban and urban communities.

Says Ayusa’s Southeast regional manager Jess Hodge, “Florida is such a beautiful state. The open hearts of the people who live there are seen in the way they welcome Ayusa’s exchange students into their homes and lives. Host families share their traditions and some of the many recreational opportunities available in the state, while students share their culture and lifestyle with their hosts.  Travel the world without leaving Florida!  Check out the opportunity for international friendship on our website – host a student!”

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. 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 the local high school, references, and a background check. The local Ayusa Community Representative conducts 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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