Homes needed for foreign exchange students

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 29, 2007

Bob and Cheryl Cleary, of Ironton, have had two different exchange students, one from Germany and one from Mexico.

Sophia Rangel, from Mexico, attended Ironton High School in the 2005-06 school year and lived with the Clearys.

“She was super. Sophia really connected with our family,” Bob Cleary said. “We all fell in love with her, she was just very easy-going, polite, courteous and studious. It was just a great experience for all of us.”

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He said as many as 20 students came from all over the world to attend schools in Ironton and Ashland last year.

Sophia attended school with their daughter, Chelsea, and both were juniors.

Anke Stoger was an exchange student from Germany and stayed with the Clearys. Her parents came to the United States to see her graduate from Ironton High School, although she still had one more year of high school in Germany that requires five years of high school.

“When you decide to do that, you get a reference, you get to see pictures of the person, and you get an opportunity to match up someone with your family,” Cleary said.

He urges families considering an exchange student to examine each student’s pictures, hobbies and try to get an idea about the student.

The student also has the opportunity to examine pictures and information about the family in the United States.

A representative from the Center for Cultural Interchange, a non-profit exchange organization, helped the Cleary family with the exchange student, taking pictures of their home and the room the student would be staying in also.

“When they interviewed us they took pictures of us to show her — so it was an exchange of a tremendous amount of information,” he said. “My wife has said that she would like to do it again. I’d recommend it to anybody.”

The Clearys still keeps in touch with both girls through e-mail.

If the student does not work out for any reason, they have the option of having the student placed with another family.

CCI has several programs for high school and university students.

Another organization that places students is Pacific Intercultural Exchange, a non-profit educational group.

They have 30 students looking for families in Ohio, out of the 650 students they have available.

“They come to study American culture and they already speak English,” said Elvia Meca, director of operations for PIE.

Some of their students stay for one semester and some stay the entire school year.

They come from Germany, Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Japan, Hungary, Korea, Mexico, Australia, Yugoslavia and China, among many other countries.

Out of the 650 students, 135 are FLEX students and 35 are YES students, she said. The FLEX program, a government-sponsored program, includes students from the former Soviet Union.

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