Monday, April 23, 2001

need local
host families

50 foreign teenagers
will live and study here
next school year

By Rosemarie Bernardo

Hosting an exchange student could bring a piece of the world to a family's doorstep, says Barbara Bancel, executive director of the International Hospitality Center.

Every year, the International Hospitality Center seeks host families interested in providing a home for international high school students wanting to study in Hawaii.

Fifty exchange students from Spain, Brazil, Hungary, Argentina, Japan, Thailand, Vietnam and other foreign countries, including those of the former Soviet Union, are expected to come to Hawaii during the 2001-2002 school year.

"I really believe the home-stay experience and living in another culture is the only way to develop an understanding of another country and the fluency of another language," said Bancel, who has housed 45 exchange students since 1975.

"I've dedicate my whole career to helping international students," she said.

Motivated by her foreign-language teachers during her high school and college years, Bancel spent nine months in Madrid through the "Experiment in International Living" program in 1961. She later obtained a bachelor's degree in romance languages from Carleton College in Northville, Minn.

"The living and learning you acquire by participating in the daily life of a host family not only teaches you the language, but the culture and the traditions of the country," she said.

Living abroad also helped her appreciate her own culture, Bancel said.

"Sometimes you have to learn from another point of view to put a value on your own country."

Students will attend the local public high school in the district in which their host resides.

Participants are carefully selected through the organization and attend an orientation program as soon as they arrive in Hawaii. Hosts provide room and board without remuneration. Also, exchange students are covered by health and accident insurance and are provided with a monthly stipend for personal needs.

Students interested in studying in the United States are sponsored by major international, educational and cultural exchange programs such as the Center for Cultural Interchange, Soros Foundation and the Freedom Support Act.

The International Hospitality Center is a private, community-based volunteer agency providing programming and hospitality services to government and foundation grantees and sponsored international exchange students.

Anyone interested in hosting an exchange student can contact Barbara Bancel at 521-3554.

E-mail to City Desk

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