Host families are need

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4-H and You

By Jeff Young

This summer, 20 young people from Japan along with two adult chaperones will come to Kentucky to learn about American families and culture. A great way for you and your child to take part in this international experience is by becoming a host family for one of these students. Applications are now being accepted.

Not only do 4-H host families get to enjoy helping the Japanese 4-H learn about American families and culture, but they also learn about Japanese culture, customs and history. Many times, international bonds that last a lifetime are created.

The Japanese young people are from two different 4-H programs, Language Laboratory and UTREK.

Youths in the Language Laboratory, or LABO, program are between the ages of 12 and 15. These young people want to experience the life an average American family.  They will spend July 22 through Aug. 18 with their host families.  Host families must be able to pick up their new sibling on July 22 in Louisville and return them Aug 18 to the same location.

Japanese young people in the UTREK program are between 14- and 16-years-old. They are interested in learning about the natural environments of both the United States and Japan.

They will arrive the same day as LABO participants but spend their first few days in the state at a local 4-H camp. There they will experience camp life and take day trips around the state.

This year, UTREK host siblings are asked to stay with their Japanese sibling from July 24 to 26 at the 4-H camp. Both will return to the rest of their host families July 26. UTREK participants will stay with their host families until Aug. 18. Like LABO participants, host families must bring UTREK youths to Louisville at this time for their return trip.

There is no cost or language requirement to become a host family, but host families should have a child that is of similar age and gender as the international 4-H’er. Host parents should provide for the Japanese 4-H’er the same way they do their own children.

International 4-H’ers should have their own area and bed, but can share a room with their host sibling.

Host families are encouraged not to plan extravagant trips or deviate from their daily routines. The Japanese youths bring their own spending money for any extras they may want to purchase.

Since the program focuses on American culture, the Japanese youths will not be placed in homes of families with the same cultural background.

While in the United States, the international 4-H’ers and their host families can participate in 4-H programs at any level in which they are comfortable. However, the family does not need to be 4-H members, and 4-H participation is not required.

If you do not have a child but would like to participate in the program, you can become a host for one of the two group chaperones. The chaperones have good English-speaking skills and will stay with a host family for either a 2- or 4-week period. The chaperones’ main objective is to help with communication and facilitate problems any of the Japanese youths may have.

If you are interested in becoming a host family or receiving more information on international opportunities through 4-H, contact Mark Mains, 4-H International Program coordinator, at 859-257-5961, ext. 231 or mark.mains@uky.edu.             Requesting information does not obligate families to host students this year. Biographies of the Japanese youths can be obtained after an application for hosting is submitted and approved. More information on 4-H International programs can be found at the Bullitt County Cooperative Extension Service.

Educational programs of the Cooperative Extension Service serve all people regardless of race, color, sex, religion, disability or national origin.