The Park City Sunrise Rotary Club is committed to the International Rotary Student Exchange program. The families that participate in taking students into their home develop relationships that extend far beyond the few months a student lives with them.
The Rotary sponsors a student exchange program for kids ages 15 to 19. Park City Rotarian Glenn Artist has run the Outbound program for about six years for this region which includes Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California and Hawaii.
“We all pool our resources to get kids from all over the world to come into this multi district organization. And then we have a round robin to pick the kids. Also, Utah is what they call a one on one exchange. So, we have to have a student leave before we can get a student to come in.”
He says Rotary International creates connections with students and families from all around the world. He and his wife have maintained close contacts with some exchange students, one German student, they’ll visit this summer, and another will join them on a trip to Hawaii this fall. Artist says any family can host an exchange student as long as a reliable background check can be done.
“We’ve got Croatia, Austria, France, Brazil and Chile. But we’ve had kids from, like I say, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, all of Europe, a lot of South Americans. Nigeria is a country we exchange with. South Africa is a country we exchange with. My wife and I have a saying that we don’t have any children, but we have kids all over the world.”
Deena Housel is the Park City School District Administrative Assistant for Student Services. She says the state allocates WPU funding for up to four J-1 visa students. Next year, there will be three exchange students who will be funded at about $3500.00 per pupil by the state. Some exchange students are on an F-1 Visa which means they would have to pay the WPU amount in order to attend school in Utah.
“The part that I am involved in is just receiving those applications and making sure we’ve got the documents we need. You know, whether accepted or not, the Superintendent will make that decision. They just have their host family. They would come in and register just like a regular student. And then the high school would just keep track of them and monitor them as if they were a Park City High School student.”
Christina Miller, Rotarian, Host Parent and mother of three Park City School district students says the experience they had hosting a 15-year-old from Aix-En Provence was so worthwhile, they would do it again. She recommends the experience to anyone who thinks they can take on another person in their home.
“Fantastic. And we communicate with her often and like I said, we’re going to see her in June. And then, she’ll be coming back here in a year or two to see us. So, I cannot say enough good things about it, and I would recommend it to any family who thinks they have the band width to offer up their life and their home to a foreign exchange student.”
Artist says he believes the exchange program can bridge cultures in a way that is good for humanity.
For anyone interested in being a host family or participating in an exchange, call him at 435-640-0900.