HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Traveling the world is a great way to learn about new places and cultures, but there is an opportunity that could allow you to experience a unique culture right at home and help someone else
Greenheart Exchange is an organization that gives youth and adults the opportunity to be immersed in new cultures.
They are looking for host families to give students the opportunity to experience Huntsville.
Brittany Ortiz is a local coordinator for Greenheart and she says hosting a foreign exchange student for a school year is a unique opportunity to not only learn about a new culture but also appreciate your own. She says"You start to recognize all the things that are unique to American life, it's just a joy to share that from the way we celebrate our holidays, just pep-rallies and high school life and seeing the joy in the exchange students eyes."
So who is the right fit? Ortiz says they are looking for anyone with an open home and an open heart, "Families come in all shapes and sizes, she says " You can be retired, you can be a young couple, you can have lots of children you can have one child, you know it's not one size fits all."
Becoming a host is a volunteer effort. There is no compensation. The host family must provide a place to sleep and study, support and 3 square meals a day.
Ortiz says what host families gain is a unique experience and maybe even lifelong friendship. That was the case for her when she hosted an exchange student from Japan.
"She stayed with me one semester and we've kept in touch all these years. Now she's married she has kids, we send each other Christmas cards," says Ortiz.
The hardest part will probably be saying goodbye. If you are interested in becoming a host family here is the form.