|By Chris Maza|
WILBRAHAM – Wilbraham & Monson Academy (WMA) is looking for families tied to the school to take part in its Homestay Program, which allows international students the opportunity to live with an American family during school breaks.
Gayle Hsiao, director of the school’s International Student Program, told Reminder Publications that while the school will not place international students with persons unknown to the school for obvious reasons, the program is not restricted to families of current students. Alumni and family of former students are also encouraged to open their homes.
Homestay hosts are needed for four timeframes during the school year, beginning with fall vacation, which encompasses Thanksgiving, beginning on Nov. 26 and concluding on Dec. 1. It is this time that host families are needed most, according to Hsiao.
“Thanksgiving is a tough time because a few years back [former Headmaster] Rodney [LaBrecque] shortened the vacation,” she said. “It’s too short of a time for many students to go home, but the dorms are not open so it creates a problem. Many times there have been group trips, but I don’t believe that is a good solution because it’s kids going somewhere with kids.”
Families are also needed for winter vacation from Dec. 20 to Jan. 6; a long weekend from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3; and spring break from March 7 to March 26.
Families are expected to provide a clean, safe, English-speaking environment with a private furnished bedroom, linens, healthy meals, access to laundry and television and Internet access.
While families receive a small amount of money for hosting a student, Hsiao said the benefits realized by both families and students that take part in the program are far more valuable.
“It changes the relationship you have with the kids,” she said. “It’s through the enrichment of the relationships we have with the students that we will truly become the Global School we say that we are.”
Those interested in hosting a student are required to fill out an application and questionnaire, must pass a Massachusetts Criminal Offender Record Information (CORI) check and must have a clean driving record.
Students interested in staying with a host family are also completing surveys and the information from those and the host family applications will be used to pair people with matching your interests and lifestyles.
For more information or to receive an application, contact Hsiao by phone at 364-3808 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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