This may surprise some, and surprise none at all.
Georgia is a popular destination for foreign exchange students.
Jess Swisher, Ayusa Regional Manager for the Southeast, says, "Our southern host families are known for their warmth and hospitality in sharing the rich history and traditions of Georgia."
Ayusa International is a 501(c)3 non-profit student exchange organization founded in 1981 and an official U.S. Department of State designated Exchange Visitor Program Sponsor.
Ten years ago, Kyle and Lori Kelly of Macon decided to try out hosting an international high school exchange student through the Ayusa program because they thought it would enrich their lives.
They started out with a French student, Elodie, and enjoyed her company so much they kept hosting students annually from such countries as Italy, Germany, Holland and France. In 2012, Kyle and Lori traveled to Italy and organized a “family reunion” with several of their former exchange students.
This year, they’re hosting Simone from Holland, who attends Howard High School in Macon. Simone has found she’s welcomed at school, often by the same American students who befriended the Kellys’ previous exchange students.
“Hosting gives us insight into other cultures, and a chance to show what America is really like – not how it’s portrayed in movies and the news,” said Lori. “But more importantly, it gives us new family members to cherish and love for the rest of our lives."
"Hosting an exchange student also allows families to learn about other countries and cultures, without the travel," Ayusa's Jess Swisher said. "If you’ve ever thought about sharing your Georgian lifestyle with a student from abroad, I encourage you to give us a call, or check out our website to read the many stories of these international friendships that last a lifetime!”
Ayusa is kicking off its annual search for families in Georgia interested in hosting international students for the 2015-2016 school year.
Ayusa is looking for host families throughout the entire state, specifically in and around:
- Marietta, Sandy Springs, Alpharetta
- Athens, Fayetteville
- Macon, Byron, Centerville, Warner Robins
- Valdosta, Waycross
For more information, visit www.ayusa.org