JAMESTOWN, NY (WNY News Now) – With the new school year closing in, students from all around the world are preparing for their academic future. Some of these young scholars have decided to participate in a foreign exchange program, and will attend local schools in our area.
The Pan Atlantic Foundation is responsible for giving these kids the opportunity to experience the American education system, and finding the right homes for the students while they’re here.
However, there is a shortage of willing foster families, and an abundance of students wanting to study abroad.
“How I got into it was basically, obviously on Facebook, searching and I come across this post that says ‘Looking for host families in the area’, and I just liked the post,” said host mom Charlotte Anderson.
There are two groups of students that can come to study in the United States.
“We get them through September, that’s when the first group comes, and the second group only has five months, they usually come in January or February, and they go through the rest of the school year,” said Anderson.
Like most things, COVID-19 took a toll on the program. Despite being cut short in 2020, the relationships built are continuing strong.
“My first student, she came at the end of August, COVID hit the schools in March and they stopped everything pretty much so they didn’t have any school from March until the end of the school year so she hung on for a little while to see how it would go. And she actually just came back three weeks ago to visit me, so she was here for two weeks. We haven’t seen each other for two years so what an experience to have her back again,” Anderson said.
There is an application host families must fill out, before being able to take in a student.
“You have to be screened, you have the background check, all that, make sure it’s a safe family and a safe student coming over here,” explained Anderson.
For those worried about expenses, the students come with their own money.
“So, the only thing you’d basically have to provide is a room, three meals a day and transportation to their sports or to school or something like that,” said Anderson.
The Pan-Atlantic Foundation encourages those looking to become a host family, to visit their website panatlanticfoundation.org to learn more.