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Port Orange Observer Wednesday, Jul. 5, 2017 3 years ago

Students from Spain wait for host families in Port Orange to Jacksonville region

The exchange program is run through Student Travel and Exchange Programs.
by: Nichole Osinski Community Editor

A group of three exchange students from Spain are still looking for a home in Port Orange and other areas of Florida.

The students, who arrived Friday, June 30, are trying to be set up with host families to stay with until July 26. The students are doing the exchange program to practice their English and learn about the U.S. and Florida in particular. Their escort, a teacher, is also looking for a place to stay for the month.

The students are visiting through the Student Travel and Exchange Programs, which has been in Florida for eight years.

Exchange student Alex and Brady at the top of a lighthouse. Image courtesy of Jenna Schuld.

“Students learn about the life and culture of a typical teen and make friendships around the world,” Susan James, community coordinator for Step in Florida, wrote in an email. “This program also promotes family quality time.”

Host families provide a bed, meals and limited transportation, if possible, according to James. The students speak English and are required to have chores and be treated like one of the family. Each week there are two activities planned.

The Schuld family

For people like Jenna Schuld and her family, these trips could include going to Universal one day and a gator farm the next. Schuld, along with her husband and stepson, Brady, who is in fifth grade, are hosting an exchange student from Spain for the third year in row.

The Schuld's celebrate Alex's birthday. Image courtesy of Jenna Schuld.

“I’ve just always wanted to do it,” Schuld said. “I love getting to learn about other cultures and broadening our son’s horizons and letting him know there’s more out there.”

The Schuld family has hosted students between the ages of 14 to 17 and still keep in touch with them when they return home. Schuld said the students have their own money. She said hosting them means families get just as much, if not more, from the experience.

“What you get is truly another person who becomes a part of your family,” Schuld said.

The Bodnar family

Jacqueline Bodnar and her family are also Port Orange residents; they hosted an exchange student last year and plan to host another this year. Bonder said she was intrigued about what hosting a student student for another country would be like and began looking into the program.

Last year, Bodnar taught an exchange student how to make a grilled cheese sandwich and fudge, something the student had never heard of before. It was seeing the students experience new foods and learning about different cultures that Bodnar said was exciting for them.

“Being a host family gives you the chance to see America through the eyes of someone from another country, as you share your customs, foods, entertainment and more,” Bodnar wrote in an email. “Sharing customs and experiences with the exchange student helps you once again learn to appreciate some things you have taken for granted.”

Interested families can contact Susan James at 904-806-1392.


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