For Texas youth and their families wanting to experience Japan this summer without leaving home, the Texas 4-H Youth Development Program will be bringing delegates from the Land of the Rising Sun here to the Lone Star State.
“We will again coordinate the placement of 20 youth from Japan with families throughout Texas for a four-week homestay program,” says Dr. Darlene Locke, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service 4-H youth development specialist, College Station. “It is being done as part of Texas Global Education and Cultural Exchange program partnership with Texas 4-H.
She says participating families benefit by expanding their global knowledge and learning about other cultures.
“And the young people involved can make life-long friendships and can keep in touch if they wish, especially with today’s technology,” Locke says. “The experience will also help them learn how to adapt to those who live and do things differently from them.”
For the program, Japanese youth ages 12 to 16 will be paired with Texas families with a child of the same gender, approximate age and similar interests, she says. They will live with the host family from July 21 to August 19. She added that host families are also needed during that same time frame for youth ages 15-18 from the American Farm School in Thessaloniki, Greece.
These youth typically have limited English language skills, but they are anxious to communicate and learn more about daily life in the U.S., Locke says.
“The delegates will visit the United States as part of the global and cultural exchange program in partnership with Texas 4-H, but you do not need to be currently involved in 4-H to host,” Locke says. “You just need a willingness to share your lives and your friendship with a young person from another country.”
“Host families are not expected to make elaborate summer plans, just include the new family member in daily family life,” she says.
“My family hosted five Japanese delegates over a nine-year period,” says Lauren Kilpatrick, 18, now a freshman at Texas A&M studying horticulture. “It was a great experience, starting with the first Japanese girl we hosted.
“After you get over the initial language barrier, you get to find out what they are all about and share things. We showed them all about living in the U.S. and being a Texan, and they showed us things like Japanese cooking and origami. It was a cool, life-changing experience.”
Locke says although profiles of the Japanese youth will not be available until later February, prospective host families should begin the application process now. If necessary, arrangements can be made to have the Japanese youth arrive at an alternate airport.
“There are also opportunities to host international adult chaperones for two to four weeks,” Locke says. “Families who host chaperones are not required to have children in the home.”
Locke says conversely that Texas youth desiring an experience abroad can visit Japan for a four week homestay, also through the program.
“Texas youth are assigned to a Japanese family and live in their home, totally immersed in the culture,” she says. “Expenses for the outbound program average $4,000, but there are some scholarships available.”