Exchange students are back this year, but it’s coming with a challenge

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) — Exchange students are back to class in Kansas.

Greenheart Exchange Regional Manager, Wilma Fast, said that two years ago, students were sent home during the shutdown and were not allowed to complete the school year. 

“When COVID really hit its beginning strides, we did have to send kids home before their experience would have normally ended,” said Fast. “They missed out on some of the most exciting things for them, graduation and prom, which they typically don’t have in their home countries.”

Many students had to defer a year because of the pandemic.

“We actually have several students who are going to Andover High School who would have come last year, but now, they’re here this year, and so it’s very rewarding to be able to give them this experience.”

Students are excited to be back this year, but one big challenge is stopping them from making their arrival. It’s finding a host family. 

“It’s always a little bit of a challenge to find host families,” said Fast. “I think some people feel like they would need to have a student in high school in order to host an exchange student, but that’s not true, host families can be a young couple, or it can be a family with young children or empty nesters.” 

Greenheart Exchange still has 80 students to place by August 31. Fast said the pandemic has only added to the challenge of finding host families. 

“There are families who are hesitant, but what’s important for families to know is that these students can get vaccinated, most of them are,” said Fast. “They’re almost 100% vaccinated before they come, and we also have a parent permission form that the parents can sign so if they were too young to get the vaccination in their home country, they can be vaccinated here.”

Students are waiting to hear if they will get to go abroad. You can find more information about the exchange program here.

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