Public schools started today, but not everyone could make it. Ten foreign exchange students who were supposed to start in Arkansas schools had to stay home because host families backed out. It's an unfortunate situation, most saying they backed out because of the economy.
Things aren't going so well right now and hosting a student is seen as just another mouth to feed. Sponsors, though, say it's more than that.
"Disappointed is not a good word because I would feel more than disappointed," explains Polsih exchange student Vera Parys. "Yeah, they were like, nobody likes me...," laments Spanish exchange student Damian Tuset. These foreign exchange students are talking about the sadness of being left behind, not having the opportunity to come to America because families are backing out.
The biggest excuse is money. They say the economy is bad and they can't afford the commitment of feeding another person. Host family coordinator, Lisa Brecht, says, "I can't put a dollar amount on that because we all have left-overs. So, why not use that firsthand and accept a student?"
Bob Powers already has an exchange student but heard about this problem and is taking in another. Two-hundred students around the world are waiting to see the inside of an American classroom, 10 in Arkansas. However, they can't come until someone steps up. Powers says, "I almost had three people talked into but they kind of backed out. They shied away a little bit. I really don't mind. I think two would be fine. They're both about the same age. I think it's going to be interesting, one from Spain, one from Germany."
That's just it. The host family benefits too, like the Fullers who are housing Vera, a child soap opera star from Poland. She says everyone dreams of coming to America, not just for the big things, but the little ones too. Vera explains, "When you just walk through the school, everybody's like,'Hi. Where are you from? You're new here.' And in Poland, people wouldn't do that and I think that is the thing that everyone should experience."
If you want to host that experience for a student, there's still time. You have about a week. Click here for everything you need to know, or call 870.917.5354.