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Host families sought for 4-H exchange program

Families in Mahoning, Columbiana, and Trumbull counties will have the opportunity to welcome a young person from Japan into their home for one month this year, as part of an international exchange program being offered by the County OSU Extension, 4-H. Students and hosts in 2017, from left, Momoko Mikuni and hostess Rachel O”Reilly from Middlefield, Kaiya Imai, Kara Burcaw hosting Runa Kohara in North Benton, Molly Jedel hosting chaperone Hinako Sato in Paris (Ohio) and chaperone Yuto Tanaka with host Kevin Williamson in Shaker Heights. (Submitted photo)

CANFIELD–Families in Mahoning, Columbiana, and Trumbull counties will have the opportunity to welcome a young person from Japan into their home for one month this year, as part of an international exchange program being offered by the County OSU Extension, 4-H. Last year, six youth and one chaperone were hosted in Mahoning and Trumbull counties.

Statewide, host families are needed for 100 Japanese youngsters (aged 12-18) and their adult chaperones, who will visit Ohio from July 23 through Aug. 17.

Host families provide the exchangees with room and board and a chance to experience daily life in America. Families are urged not to alter their daily routines or lifestyles during their visitor’s stay.

Exchangees provide their own spending money, and the sponsoring organization furnishes comprehensive medical insurance.

The young Japanese visitors belong to the Labo Foundation, an organization which promotes the study of English culture and language in Japan. The other youth belong to organizations similar to 4-H in their country. Ohio 4-H has been conducting international exchange programs with these groups since 1949. Students will arrive on July 23 and leave on Aug. 18, delivered locally by OSU buses.

The program allows children to live with an American family as a way to expand their English skills and learn from each other with similar age children. Chaperones also live with adult families as a way to be available to the visitors and help with homesickness, health issues and language barriers. Each family chooses the activities and experiences they want for their new family guest, so each youth could have a unique adventure compared to his or her peers.

All types of families are welcome to apply to become hosts, including urban, rural, single-parent, childless and non-4-H families. The only requirement is that for the Japanese month-long exchange, hosts must have a family member of the same gender and approximate age of the exchangee, three meals a day and a separate bed for the visitor.

Those interested should contact Gary Reel at 330-533-7712 (Mahoning, Trumbull, and Columbiana counties) for an application form and more information about this and other 4-H international exchange programs.

They may also obtain information and an application at the website www.ohio4h.org/youth/international.

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