By Greg and Rita Hawk
A very special thank you to friends in our extended lakes area community and the teachers, students and staff at Walled Lake Western High School for the many kindnesses extended to Klara van Eickels and the other exchange students over the past school year. As Klara’s host parents, we want to express what a rich experience this was for her and, in turn, for the many American friends and family she had during her stay.
Youth For Understanding (YFU) is grateful for the many caring people who help build bridges between our country and others. Klara was one of a large group of kids from different countries who arrived last August and departed for home a couple weeks ago after a wonderful year of personal experiences in American daily life and culture.
During the past 60 years, 250,000 students have been exchanged through YFU programs, and at this moment, many boys and girls are waiting to be selected by caring host families for the 2011-2012 school year.
Over 40 volunteers in Oakland and Macomb counties assist exchange students and host families in making their exchange successful, and the district office can put families in touch with the local volunteers in our area.
Host families provide a place to live, three meals a day, encouragement, guidance and love to their exchange son or daughter. It’s a typical family living experience — not a tourist/travel opportunity. Families come in all shapes and sizes, with and without children of all ages. The students come with their own spending money, health insurance, and the commitment to live according to the rules and values of your family and Youth for Understanding (www.yfu-usa.org). They can share a room with a host sibling. You don’t need to have a teen to host. Families can host for the school year or for a shorter time period.
Would you like to consider opening your hearts and homes to a YFU exchange student this August? To see profiles of some available students and find out if this might be right for you, contact the YFU District Office at 866-493-8872 or call our local director, Barb Kilkka, at 248-932-0811.