Though it was tough at first, foreign exchange student Jorge Vizarraga has learned a lot during his first semester as a student at Kingwood High School and living in Kingwood.
Originally from Spain, Vizarraga was worried, at first, about missing his friends and family but he fit right in with his host family, the Shanahans, and made friends through soccer and several other organizations.
“Life is a lot different here than it is in Spain. Everything is a lot farther here so you have to have a car to get places but it has been a learning experience and a lot of fun,” Vizarraga said.
Since he started at Kingwood High School this past fall, he has learned about the American culture and has really enjoyed all of the school spirit activities they host at the school.
The Shanahan family had an interest in serving as a host family for an exchange student so they signed on with the Ayusa Exchange Student Program to host a student from another country.
Ayusa’s programs cater to a variety of participants while sharing the common mission of creating the next generation of global leaders and world citizens.
Families who are interested in becoming a host family are involved in their community which will allow for the exchange student to be immersed in the community and learn more about a new culture.
There are only a select amount of spots open for foreign exchange students at each of the high schools and they fill up fast but Leesa Shanahan encourages to see how many are open and volunteer to become a host family.
Ayusa is always in need of more host families interested in providing a place for a foreign exchange student to live for a year.
“The host family is required to provide the exchange student with breakfast, lunch and dinner and if the student decides to go out with friends, they will use the money they get from their family back home. Through Ayusa, the family does not get paid for the exchange student,” Shanahan explained.
The foreign exchange student through Ayusa must pass an English proficiency test and have good grades before they are considered for the program.
Ayusa also works with both the host family and the exchange student to match their personalities and hobby to ensure it is a good match.
Vizarraga has had the opportunity to participate in several different “rites of passage” in high school including going to the school’s homecoming dance and volunteering at the Houston Food Bank’s Thanksgiving Feast for the homeless.
“This is a great opportunity for students like me because you get see what another culture is like. It is like a world outside of your own and the country you have grown up in,” Vizarraga said.
“I recommend this to any student who is interested in a new experience and the opportunity to explore and learn about a new culture.”
Read the original article from the Atascocita Observer here.