Last call for foreign exchange student hosts

Published 2:37 pm Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Doug Myers (center), his son, Ben, 13 (right) and Marlon Los Santos, 17, of Germany on a hiking excursion.

One local family is extending what they believe to be “the cultural opportunity of a lifetime” to the Michiana area, and the deadline is approaching quickly.

In the past 16 years, Doug Myers and his wife, Lisa, have hosted eight foreign exchange students from various parts of the world.

The Myers family joined the ASSE International Student Exchange Program in 1997, and enjoyed it so much that they were asked to become representatives for the Michiana area. Now, in addition to hosting students about every other year, they help find other host families to place the students with.

“It’s a very cool cultural experience,” said Doug, a Niles Township fire fighter. “You get to learn about another country, but even more so, you’re extending your family. It’s a lot of fun to get to watch [the students] learn about your culture because for most of the students, it’s their first trip to the United States.”

Doug said that there are so many students interested in exchange programs from all over the world that they don’t tend to have a preference in where exactly they end up.

“They come from all over the place. Germany, China, Japan, Mexico, Turkey, the Czec Republic, you name it,” he said.  “What happens is we get a batch of kids from the nationwide pool. The the prospective hosts go through the kids to find which ones would be the best fit — for example, our family has animals, so students who like animals.”

Doug said that one of the most common misconceptions is that having an exchange student is a big financial burden, or that families believe they have to take big trips to show their students the U.S.

“The only requirements of host families are to provide the students a place to sleep and meals to eat and to treat them like family. If students choose to get involved in sports or other activities, their home families pay for all of that,” he said.

This week is the deadline for joining the prospective host family pool. Interested families can contact Doug or his wife Lisa at their cell phone numbers: (269) 362-2370 or (269) 362-2371.