Local families sought to host exchange students

On March 28, Ayusa foreign exchange students from all over Minnesota visited the state Capitol to learn about state government and visit with state representatives. A popular topic they discussed was comparing the state’s transportation and infrastructure to other countries. Ayusa is gearing up for the 2014-15 school year, with more than 450 students waiting to be placed with families. Photo supplied

On March 28, Ayusa foreign exchange students from all over Minnesota visited the state Capitol to learn about state government and visit with state representatives. A popular topic they discussed was comparing the state’s transportation and infrastructure to other countries. Ayusa is gearing up for the 2014-15 school year, with more than 450 students waiting to be placed with families. Photo supplied

Ayusa International, a nonprofit organization that for 31 years has promoted global learning and leadership through high school student cultural exchanges and leadership programs, is launching its annual search for families in Minnesota to host international students for the 2014-2015 school year.

Ayusa is particularly looking for host families in Rush City and Cambridge, along with Minneapolis and St. Paul, Duluth, Brainerd, St. Cloud, Mankato, Faribault and Marshall.

The Roubineck family, of Lakeville, is thrilled with their high school exchange student, Hsin-Yi “Winnie,” from Taiwan.

“Winnie has really enjoyed becoming a part of our family – beyond coming for the school experience,” said host mom Amanda Roubineck. “She has joined us on vacation and family celebrations, and she is eager to try anything new. One of our favorite memories with Winnie was celebrating the Chinese New Year.”

Ayusa, which stands for Academic Year in the USA, 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 live in rural, suburban and urban communities.

Host families provide three meals a day and a bedroom (either private or shared). Each exchange student is supported by a professionally trained local representative from Ayusa who works closely with the family, student and local school throughout the program.

How to host an international student

Families who are interested in hosting an exchange student with Ayusa can follow these three steps:

• Step one: View information online about Ayusa’s program and types of students that are interested in living with a host family and spending a year in the United States.

• Step two: Complete your Ayusa application for hosting, which can be done online. Ayusa will provide a list of questions about families and their local high school, request five references and ask family candidates to sign a program agreement. An Ayusa representative can help complete the application, answer any questions and connect potential host families with other host families in a specific community.

• Step three: Once the application is submitted, an Ayusa representative will assist with completion of the additional hosting requirements – a criminal background check and in-home interview with an Ayusa representative. Once a host family is approved, the family may log in to select a student. Ayusa representatives also can help find a student to match a family’s specific interests and activities.

Ayusa’s exchange students are 15-18 years old and come from more than 60 countries around the world including Brazil, Japan, Germany, Ecuador, France, Peru, Morocco, China and Spain. All students are fully insured, bring their own spending money and are proficient in English.

“Minnesota is one of the top destinations for Ayusa exchange students visiting the U.S. They may be drawn to the multitude of recreational options offered (here),” said Jessica Anderson, Ayusa regional manager for the Midwestern states.

According to The Council on Standards for International Educational Travel, more than 27,000 international high school students between the ages of 15 and 18 years old studied in the U.S. during 2013-2014 as part of U.S. government-sponsored international exchange programs. Ayusa has been a member of The Council for more than 25 years, since its foundation.

The nonprofit is an official U.S. Department of State designated Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor. Families interested in learning more about hosting a foreign exchange student can visit www.ayusa.org or call 888-552-9872.

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