FRANKFORT, Ky. (4/3/13) – We've all seen and heard about foreign exchange students through TV and movies. Imagine helping to bring these once in a lifetime opportunities to life.
Megan and Brian Chaney, of Greenville, know first-hand what a rewarding experience it can be to welcome someone from another country into their home. But the Chaneys are not only a host family for students. They also work as International Exchange Coordinators IECs for EF Foundation.
EF Foundation, based in Boston, is a not-for-profit organization that provides families the chance to extend a welcoming hand to a foreign student as what is known as a "host family". Coordinators focus on matching the right student up with the right family.
Ms. Chaney explained, "Your job as coordinator is to find host families within a 200 mile area, have good skills with paperwork, and match each student with a suitable family. You also show support for them throughout the year, and if problems arise, your job is to be a mediator for the host families and the students. We also have a national training session each year with other coordinators." Chaney added.
“Currently there are 700 EF Foundation professional coordinators throughout the nation. As coordinators," Chaney emphasized, "the U.S. Department of State requires we be within 200 miles of each host family, but we are also allowed to coordinate over state lines. I've even worked with host families in both Clarksville and Nashville, Tennessee."
"A coordinator is not necessarily required to host a student, but in cases of emergency, you are required to have accommodations set up in your home if the need ever arises. The job requires good communication skills and an outgoing personality since you have to contact school systems, speak at events, and set up booths while also working with families. You would want to have an emphatic side so you can understand the side of the student and family to make sure it is a good match, and be ready to help talk out problems." she added.
As the leader in global youth exchange, EF Foundation provides unsurpassed support, benefits and training to coordinators than any other exchange organization.
Also, if you know of someone who might want to become a host family for a foreign exchange student, you could receive $250 if they agree to join the EF Foundation program. The biggest challenge is encouraging people to realize that actually anyone can do this. Married couples of just about any age, single people, single people with children. A lot of my job is just letting people know you don't have to be a wealthy family to become a host family. And one of the priceless rewards is watching friendships develop throughout the year between a host family and student. Unlike a host family you are an independent contractor. You do receive financial reimbursement for various things." Chaney said.
“Currently in the Western Kentucky area we would love to have at least 10 to 15 IECs in areas such as Henderson, Hopkinsville, Murray, Owensboro, Madisonville, Paducah, and Bowling Green. Really Western Kentucky is a wide open area. If we could get coordinators in those areas we would easily be able to bring 50 to 60 kids into Western Kentucky. To help in this area, there is a $250.00 referral fee for anyone who knows of someone who might want to become a coordinator." Chaney emphasized.
To find out how you can become an EF Foundation International Exchange Coordinator call 270-543-8480, 1-800-44-SHARE, or log on to www.effoundation.org
Information provided by Megan Chaney
Photo provided by SurfKY Graphics
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