GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) -
By Michelle Lady
Want to broaden your horizons and learn about another culture, but do not have it in your budget? One idea is to host an exchange student.
Ayusa is a non-profit organization, with a chapter in South Mississippi, that matches foreign students with families.
David and Lisa Heverly of Gautier have welcomed Charlotte into their family.
Lisa Heverly said, "She has brought music into our house and another language - actually several languages, she knows more than one. It's extremely rewarding, she is a really good kid."
Charlotte is a 16-year-old from Germany. She has been living with the couple and their four children for nine months now.
David Heverly said, "We actually took her up to Pennsylvania for Christmas, that's where I'm from. We took her to the beach camping."
Charlotte has made quite the impression, not only on her host parents, but also on their 7-year-old twin daughters.
"It was good, we went shopping with her and we went to this big hotel named Palace together," Kariena Heverly said.
She has also taught them how to play piano and speak German.
Charlotte has joined the soccer and cross country teams at school, both sports she never tried back home. She has also thoroughly enjoyed playing the Wii with her new family.
"It's a really good experience and you really learn from it. I like it here because I like the climate and the sun and everyone is relaxed," Charlotte said.
Ayusa Regional Director Cherrilyn Thomas placed Charlotte with the Heverly family.
"Mississippi averages anywhere from 15 to 30 students a year we get here, in the southern part of the state, probably 10 to 15 students," Thomas said.
But she wishes more families would open up their homes. She has hosted five students.
"It's worth the time you put into it. It's like having a new child and you stay in touch with them forever," Thomas said. "You may not see them again, because it's expensive to go to Europe, but if you have the opportunity they are always welcoming."
"We are really going to miss her, but hopefully we will be able to Skype with her and keep in contact to see how she is doing," David Heverly said.
Lisa Heverly said, "She is going to come back next summer to visit. Maybe someday we will be able to get over there to see her.
Ayusa invites anyone to be a host family, all you have to do is provide room and board. The students bring their own spending money.
If you are interested in learning more click here or call 601-620-9002.
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