COLD SPRINGS, Nev. -- Having a cultural experience is important for a well-rounded education and it's even easier now that you can get one without leaving the country. A foreign exchange student program promises that whether you're single or married, with or without children, there is something in it for each type of family.
"[Foreign exchange students] bring their culture to America. They want to learn, they beg to come to America because it's an opportunity of a lifetime for them," Gene Foster, community Coordinator of PAX Academic Exchange.
It's also an opportunity for American families to learn from them. Lynne Ballatore and Daniel South didn't know what to expect when they signed up to be a host family to Ingelin, a teenager from Norway.
"We only have the one son and he took to being a big brother like a duck to water and he really adapted to it well and enjoyed it," South said.
From teaching the language to American food culture, the family learned what it was like to have a daughter. After 10 months, they'd never expect to feel such attachment.
"The heartbreak when she went home was just overwhelming so you'd have to set yourself up for that," South said.
"It takes a lot of guts for a high school teenager, boy or girl, 16-18 years old, to leave their family at home, leave their friends, come to a place they've never been before to go to live with a strange family to a new school," Foster said.
Foster pairs host families with a student from one of more than 70 participating countries. Students have their own spending money, which makes their stay relatively inexpensive.
"You can spend more if you want but financially you don't have to have a lot," South said. "My biggest regret was not doing it sooner."
For the family, the experience was priceless. They still keep in touch with Ingelin and even visited her in Norway a few years ago. Foster is looking for 15 host families in the area to commit before the school year begins on August 12.
If you are interested in becoming a PAX host family, contact Gene Foster at (775)-376-8293 or visit the link below.