Hosting exchange students can help spread global peace, understanding

To the Editor:

If you are wondering this holiday season what you can do here in Vermont to make a positive impact towards spreading global peace and understanding, have you considered hosting a high school foreign exchange student?

Did you know, the U.S. State Department sponsors two high school exchange student scholarship programs? These programs bring students from countries with predominantly Muslim populations (the YES program) and countries that were formerly under Soviet influence (the FLEX program). 

The students go through a rigorous application process, including academic and character testing, and a formal interview. The acceptance rate for one of these scholarships is lower than Harvard.  Their alumni include 565 heads of government around the world. That is approximately 75 percent of the world foreign leadership influenced by foreign exchange.

Just imagine, this is an opportunity to provide a future foreign leader access to see firsthand that our country, our home, is not what they see on the news, but so much more.

Sharing your world is simpler than you imagine. Could you provide a student with any of these amazing opportunities: first taste of maple syrup, the chance to learn to ride a bicycle, all of the fun activities that go along with their first snowfall, their first pet, or the knowledge to create a better local community through volunteering? Students want to experience our home, and our communities. They take this knowledge home, and as scholarship program alumni, they help others see the world outside their borders as generous and supportive.

Host families come in all shapes and sizes, with children or without. But one thing they do have in common is an open mind, a loving heart, and an enthusiasm to learn about a new culture.

Founded in 1990, PAX is a not-for-profit educational organization and one of a select few U.S. Department of State designated Exchange Visitor Programs chosen to participate in its prestigious U.S. government-sponsored FLEX and YES programs.

If you would like more information on hosting, please contact me at annetteinvt@gmail.com.

Annette Franklin
Local Coordinator
PAX – Program of Academic Exchange
Middlebury

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