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LETTERS: Open your home to an AFS exchange student

To the editor:

As a local volunteer for AFS Intercultural Programs (formerly the American Field Service), I am writing with a plea that more area families consider becoming AFS host families for high school students from abroad.

The Cazenovia area can be proud of its record over the years of embracing AFS high school student exchange programs. We have all seen the tremendous merits of the program and how AFS has been a valuable partner in bringing the world to our doorstep in the form of energetic young students, like our current AFSer Julian, from around the globe.

At the same time, AFS has provided our own local students the opportunity to set out and see the world for themselves. We need host families to sustain the AFS program in Cazenovia.

Host families come in all shapes and sizes. The one main requirement is that host families are able to provide the love and support that all teenagers need. If we are unable to find area families who are willing to be AFS hosts, it is not just a foreign student who misses out, the Cazenovia community as a whole loses the opportunity to share and learn from one of these students.

These are young people who come away from the AFS experience and do great things. AFS students have become presidents and vice presidents of their countries; dozens of ambassadors around the world were former AFS students.

When we bring these young people to our community, we become hosts to tomorrow’s leaders, healers, educators and peacemakers.

The experience of being a host family is deeply rewarding and, above all, fun. It is also important to know that AFS has a strong volunteer presence in the area and that host families can count on the support of AFS throughout the year. Cazenovia is presently hosting an AFSer from Norway, who will be leaving us at the end of June.

There are nearly a hundred students arriving in early August for whom homes must be found before the visa deadlines. I urge interested families to find out more about hosting an AFS student from abroad for a year or a semester. It is truly an unforgettable experience.

Please visit the AFS web site (afsusa.org) or for more information, call Maryanne Marr at 852-6243 or email atmadamem12@hotmail.com.

Maryanne Marr

DeRuyter AFS Team

Hosting and Participant Support Coordinator

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