COOPERSVILLE, Mich-- Enjoying the lake shore is something many of us may take for granted, but an organization in West Michigan is giving others, outside of our country, the chance to enjoy it too.
Not only that, these exchange students are placed in Coopersville schools and are immersed in West Michigan culture. But in order to do so, they need host families.
That's where you come in.
International Experience, founded in 2002, is the non-profit behind the fun.
It's a great way to dispel prejudices and learn about other cultures. Sarah Boucher, who has hosted more than 7 students, says it's just as beneficial for host families as it is for the students.
Boucher has been a local coordinator in West Michigan since 2014.
For students like Luna Zeissel from Austria, getting a taste of the American dream is a dream in itself.
"I love my host parents. They’re literally like my second parents," Zeissel said. "So I’ve been on a cheer team that was really fun. I’m on part of the track team right now, I’m showing a pig at the fair. Yeah, that’s going to be really fun and I’m super excited for that."
Boucher has worked with more than 90 students in West Michigan.
"I’ve had students from all different countries all walks of life all different host family types, different schools, the best part is watching them grow throughout the year in the U.S," Boucher said.
Exchange students are immersed in the day-to-day life of a new culture, become part of a new host family, attend a local school, improve language skills and most importantly, they make lifelong friends.
Students come from all over the world: Austria, Thailand, China, Spain, Switzerland, etc.
"Take the leap," Boucher said. "People don’t realize anyone can host. Host families can see their
community through a new lens, become “hometown tourists”, learn about another culture/country/language, and make a lasting impact on everyone involved in exchange."
International Experience has a summer program for three weeks where American students can go to Germany with no requirement to speak the language. If you would like to fill out an app, click here.
If you are interested in hosting, there is an online application. Again, click here if interested.