By Annika Morschauser
GREEN BAY – International Cultural Exchange Services (ICES) USA is looking to place multiple foreign exchange students with host families in the Green Bay area.
ICES is a non-profit organization that works internationally to place foreign exchange students within public high schools with the goal of promoting peace as cultural differences are shared and understood within different countries. The organization has been active since the 1950s with over 30 organizations throughout the United States. Around 20,000 students apply annually to be an exchange student in the United States.
Deb Prokop, a regional administrator for Wisconsin for over 20 years, said that her goal is “to help people understand how this helps us to spread peace because we open our homes and learn about other kids’ cultures. We give them the opportunity to attend our schools and see what it’s like and they don’t forget us.”
Exchange students stay for the entire school year and can be placed as late as Aug. 31, depending on the school.
Hosts are matched with students that fit their interests and preferences depending on availability and are required to attend an orientation before the exchange students arrive to understand how to enroll their student in school.
Prokop has hosted around 30 students throughout the years and continues to keep in contact with most of them by traveling back and forth.
Prokop said she likes the students to experience and learn different things such as taking them to Madison to see the Capitol, having them participate in school activities, community service and much more.
She noted that hosts don’t have to spend a lot of money to give their students the best experience because there are plenty of local and free events to give them the option of participating in.
“It’s as much fun as you make of it, but you don’t have to go overboard and do all of this stuff,” Prokop stated.
She said that there are many benefits to hosting an exchange student — an opportunity to share cultures and experiences as well as building a new friendship.
Prokop said, “When you open your mind to exchange, you meet so many people and you learn what other people are like in different experiences and share with you their culture.”
Applications are available online to become a host family, which requires a background check and an in-home visit.
Anyone can host whether they have their own student in high school or not.
For more information, visit https://www.icesusa.org.