By TRAVIS MORSE email@example.com
---- — MT. VERNON — For Angie Warf of Opdyke, hosting foreign exchange students in her home has been an eye-opening experience.
Over the past several months, two such students — one from China and one from Australia — have stayed with her family while attending Mt. Vernon Township High School.
Warf said she's enjoyed the experience of hosting the students so much she decided to become coordinator of the local foreign exchange student program run by Cultural Homestay International.
Currently, CHI is seeking additional Mt. Vernon area families willing to host exchange students.
“It's so interesting to learn the way they live and the way they say things,” Warf said. “They are a great group of kids. … What you learn from students, it's like you're going to their country even though you've never been there.”
The two students who have been staying with Warf's family are Xinmei Wang, 17, from China, and Chauny Taylor, 16, from Australia. They are the first CHI exchange students to attend MVTHS, Warf said.
Wang returned to China Wednesday and Taylor goes back to Australia in June. Both girls hope to return to the U.S. later to attend college.
“It was really good, like there was a lot more opportunities here,” Taylor said of attending MVTHS. “They love sports so you have a lot of sports in school. And their American school spirit is like awesome.”
Wang said going to school in the U.S. provides more chances to be creative. She also enjoyed weekend activities with her host family like fishing and shopping.
“In China, for school, we more likely pay more attention and study things,” Wang said. “In here, the school like try to make student be more creative.”
Angie Warf's 16-year-old daughter, Hannah, said it was fun learning Chinese and Australian terminology from the students. For instance, cotton candy is referred to as “fairy floss” in Australia, she said.
“It's a good experience, very good,” Hannah said.
In August, the Warf family will host two additional students. However, two more CHI students may be placed in Mt. Vernon this August if host families can be found, Angie Warf said.
There is no fee to be part of the program. The exchange students are ages 15 to 18 and come with their own expense money. Host families mainly have to provide room and board, and meals at home.
Angie Warf said host families get the chance to search through profiles and select which exchange student would be the best fit for their home. For example, a family that loves basketball could select a student that plays the sport, she said.
Five- and 10-month hosting opportunities are available. Host families must undergo a background check before being selected.
CHI is an international foreign exchange operation that has been active for more than 30 years.
If you are interested in being a host family, contact Angie Warf at 214-4487.