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Central Okanagan families sought to host international exchange students

Central Okanagan Public Schools (SD23) is calling on local families to open up their homes to international students.

Host families are needed for the school district’s International Education homestay program and applications to host students starting in the fall are now being accepted.

A release from SD23 says students from around the world will be matched with Central Okanagan families who have an extra room in their home.

Any family who hosts a student will receive compensation of $1,100 per month to help with living costs and subsidizing family activities.

<who>Photo Credit: Long-time hosts, the Besse family, with Frida, their most-recent international student from Germany.

"Our homestay program is internationally recognized because we run it ourselves, so we offer great support for both the students and the families who choose to open their home," says Raquel Steen, SD23’s assistant superintendent.

"We have a lot of students who are eager to learn about Canadian culture and live the Okanagan lifestyle, but we always need more families who would like to enjoy the many benefits of the cultural exchange."

According to SD23, those who have been hosting international students for years, like the Besse family, speak glowingly of the connections and opportunities that arise by being involved with the program.

“In the beginning, it was just rewarding having different culture in the house and sharing the culture of the Canadian family,” explained Trevor Besse, who said his family’s recommendation is to just try it out.

“After 20 years of hosting, we’ve seen the students inspire our own kids to be more confident and outgoing, and we’ve made so many friends around the world with the students’ families.”

<who>Photo Credit: The Besse family with Frida's family when they came to visit from Germany.

Besse added that there are short-term placements available that allow for families to see if the program is right for them.

“You can still make great connections in that short time,” he noted.

SD23 is accepting applications to host students beginning in September for both short- or long-term stays.

The school district is looking for just a few more homes in the Mission and Central Kelowna area, but welcomes families from all around the Central Okanagan to apply.

If you’re interested, you can apply online. If you have questions about the program, you’re urged to email or call 250-470-3258.

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