Business

Host families in short supply for Japanese exchange students

"A shortage of families willing to host Japanese exchange students has volunteers for International Understanding knocking on the doors of Federal Way homes.This is a pretty desperate situation, said Kimberly Meyerdirk, associate director for IU, which operates out of Seattle. We need for residents to open their hearts and homes for kids.Between 25 and 30 Japanese students are coming to Federal Way to improve their English in a language immersion program. Meyerdirk says 12 to 15 more Federal Way families are needed to host Japanese students hailing from Tokyo and Osaka. Only five families have agreed to host the students. The families can choose to host junior high or high school students. They will stay in Federal Way about a month, Meyerdirk said. Response to the door-to-door pitch has been poor, said volunteer Sheila Criscione. Many people are not interested in hosting children.Requirements for hosting the students include having two related people living in the home. This can mean a husband and wife, brother and sister, uncle and niece, or other family relation, Meyerdirk said. English must also be the primary language of the home.The students will stay in Federal Way from July 20 to Aug. 17. Students will be engaged in English classes from about 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. during weekdays with weekends off. We're asking families to spend time in the evenings and on the weekends with the students, Meyerdirk said, and do what they would normally do on the weekends even if that means just renting videos or going to the store, that's an adventure for them.Meyerdirk hopes her appeal will spark an interest among people wanting to learn about another culture. Hosting is a good way to learn a little Japanese as well, she said.Even if people can only host for a portion of the time we'll make it work, Meyerdirk said. We'll try to be as flexible as possible."

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