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iBerkshires.com Columnist Section

Sue Bush
More articles from Sue Bush

Student Program Seeking Host Families

By Susan Bush
12:00AM / Saturday, July 22, 2006

"Niza" spent the 2005-06 school year at the Mount Anthony Union High School as a PAX student. She is from the Phillipines. Other PAX students who attended MAUHS during the past school year include "Zoli" from Hungary, and South Korean students "Ji Sub," aka "Rick," and "Dong Baek," aka "Dave."
Pownal, Vt. - An international student exchange program is hoping to bring at least two foreign students to the Northern Berkshires for the upcoming school year if interested families are willing to open their homes.

Area Schools Will Accept Some Students

Town resident Kara Lozier, a community coordinator of the Program of Academic Exchange, known as PAX, said during a recent interview that several area schools have agreed to accept the students.

Officials of Drury High School, Mount Greylock Regional High School, and Hoosac Valley High School, Pittsfield High School and Taconic High School have said that PAX program students may enroll, Lozier said. The Berkshire Arts and Technology charter school also has expressed an interest in hosting PAX students, she said.

One female student from another country is expected to share the home of an Adams family and is expected to attend the Grace Christian School in Bennington, Vt. during the upcoming school year, Lozier said.

About PAX

The PAX program is accredited by the Council On Standards for International Educational Travel, and is one of 12 agencies chosen by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs to administer a specific program known as the FLEX [Future Leaders Exchange] program. PAX is also recognized as one of three agencies designated by the federal government able to administer a Youth Exchange and Study [YES] program.

PAX is a non-profit entity promoting ideals of international peace, friendship, and cultural understanding, according to information available on a www.pax.org Internet web site. Community coordinators such as Lozier are not volunteers and do earn commissions for student placements, according to information posted on the PAX web site.

The group was launched in 1990 and arranges "exchanges" for eligible United States students, who live abroad for a summer, a semester, or an entire school year, and also arranges similar visits for qualified students from other countries.

PAX student placements have occurred at the Mount Anthony Union High School in Bennington, most recently during the 2006-06 school year, Lozier said.

CSIET Certification

The CSIET has developed strict standards for long-term programs and short-term programs. Agencies earning the CSIET certification have demonstrated adherence to these standards.

For example, any CSIET-certified program must be certain that all foreign exchange program students coming to the U.S. have a demonstrable proficiency with the English language, according to information posted at a www.csiet.org Internet web site.

Families must be willing to accept an incoming student as a member of the household.

The exchange students are required, as part of a cultural sharing and education program component, to deliver a presentation about their countries to their classmates. In most cases, the students are eager to experience U.S. student life, and become active in school-sponsored clubs, athletics, and other activities, Lozier said.

"I believe that no one benefits more than the families who take a student," she said.

Lozier described a 2005-06 placement. A male Muslim student from Egypt was placed with an area Jewish family, she said, and added that the student's family initially had some concerns about the situation.

According to Lozier, the student and family members treated each other with respect for the differing religious beliefs, and cultural sharing did occur.

"It turned out to be one of the best matches," she said.

Foreign students must have studied the English language for at least three years and have a specific grade point average before being accepted as a PAX participant. Additional guidelines and requirements are posted on the agency web site.

Oleksander and Ju Yeon

Lozier is hoping to find homes at least two students, she said.

Olexsander, 16, is from the Ukraine and is very active in sports, Lozier said. He enjoys soccer, basketball, hiking and chess. He has nine years of English language education and his grade point average is an A-, said Lozier.

"I would love to see him get into one of the schools with a strong sports program," said Lozier.

Ju Yeon is a 15-year-old South Korean student who is a competitive swimmer and enjoys track and running. She draws and plays the piano, Lozier said.

"Her teacher has said that Ju Yeon is outgoing and enthusiastic," said Lozier.

Ju Yoen has had three years of English language education and scored well on an English language proficiency examination, Lozier said.
Her grade point average is also an A-.

Close Proximity To Families

Lozier noted that the U.S. Department of State mandates foreign exchange program community coordinators reside within 120 miles of any students placed by the specific coordinator.

PAX requirements insist that the coordinators live within 50 miles of placed students; Lozier said that she and another PAX coordinator, Douglas Eash, are trying to place students within a 20 to 25 mile radius of their homes or workplaces.

"We feel that our effectiveness in properly supporting and counseling the students and families we serve is affected by our physical proximity to them. We want to be part of the same communities our students will be a part of. That is how we can best advocate for them."

Under the terms of the school year program, PAX foreign students travel to their American homes in mid-August and leave when the school year concludes.

Interested persons may contact Lozier at karalozier@yahoo.com for detailed information or with questions or concerns.

Information about student exchange programs may be acquired from an U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs http://exchanges.state.gov/ Internet web site.

Susan Bush may be reached via e-mail at suebush@iberkshires.com or at 802-823-9367.
Your Comments
Post Comment
I would encourage any family considering hosting a foreign exchange student go to the U.S. Dept. of State website, Exchange Visitor Program, to read the regultions in place to protect these children once they are brought to America. Also, browse the Committee for the Safety of Foreign Exchange Students website at www.csfes.org. We are always available to assist foreign exchange students and their families.
Jan M. Scherrer
CSFES.org
from: Jan Scherreron: 07-22 00:00:00-2006


 
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