Host families are wanted to open their homes to Japanese students who will be attending West Virginia University this fall through the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences Intensive English Program.

The students �€most about 20 years old �€are from Kansai Gaidai University. They are expected to arrive on Aug. 20 and spend the fall semester here.

�€?This is our third year for this exchange homestay program at WVU ,�€? coordinator Karen Allen said. �€?It just provides really great enrichment for the family, and I think it’s great for the community too. It’s a way for our hosts to meet people from other cultures. Students become part of the family.�€?

Todd Ensign of Morgantown and his wife, Jessica Thomas, have hosted a dozen IEP students.

�€?The reason my wife and I got involved in the program was because she had participated in homestays in India, Slovakia and France,�€? he said. �€?She had such a positive experience as a homestay student herself, we decided to get involved in the IEP program. Our experience has been overwhelmingly positive because of the personalities of the students involved in this program.�€?

Selected participants are asked to make a semester commitment to provide a private room in their home and two meals a day, Allen said.

It is helpful if they live relatively close to the University. If their home is not within walking distance or near the Personal Rapid Transit, PRT , or a local bus stop, they should be able to furnish transportation to WVU .

Allen noted that IEP exchange students have health insurance and are expected to pay for other meals and activities.

She encouraged all types of families �€including those with single parents and retired or divorced couples �€to apply.

The WVU program will pair students with families based on their shared interests and provide ongoing support throughout the homestay experience, she added.

The application process consists of a one-page form, reference check and home visit. Interested families should contact Allen at 304-291-6830, 304-293-3604 or by the end of the month.

She expects to have all hosts in place by July 5.

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