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Exchange program seeks host ohana

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Top-notch students from around the world who have received scholarships to study in the United States are seeking host families in Hawaii.

"We need committed, caring, loving families that really want to a make a difference in the world in the future," said Barbara Bancel, regional director for the Center for Cultural Interchange. "The kids are truly outstanding, and they have been selected because they represent the future hope of their countries and ours."

Youth Exchange and Study brings students from countries with large Muslim populations, and the Future Leaders Exchange program brings students from Eurasia, including former Soviet bloc countries. The U.S. State Department sponsors both programs, and Bancel manages them in Hawaii.

Students are selected in open, merit-based competitions. They live as a "son" or "daughter" with an American family, fostering learning about each other’s customs and cultures. Families in Hawaii can host a student for three, five or 10 months.

"Host families come in all sizes and shapes," Bancel said. "It can be parents with children, families whose children are grown, single parents or singles."

Hosts are asked to provide a bed, meals and a chance to be part of a family. They are not paid. Students are covered by health insurance and receive a stipend for personal expenses such as haircuts and entertainment.

Bancel also oversees shorter exchange programs. Host families are needed this summer for students from countries such as France, China, Japan and Korea.

For more information, contact Bancel at the International Hospitality Center at 521-3554.





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