Originally posted on August 23, 2013 @ 6:30 am
International Student Exchange (ISE) is seeking host families for students from over 55 countries. I spoke with regional manager LaJuan Dixon today, who shared the story of how she became involved in the foreign exchange program and information on how families can host a student. ISE’s mission of “bringing people of the world closer together” is passionately pursued by Mrs. Dixon, who takes every opportunity possible to share the program.
In 1994, LaJuan and her husband went on a mission trip to Russia. She repeated the trip five times. During her last visit, a teenage boy with blonde hair and blue eyes lamented that she wouldn’t come back. “They always say they’ll come back, but they never do,” he said. Mrs. Dixon began praying on her way back home that God would provide some way for her to bring those children to our country. Her hope was for them to be introduced to Christianity here, and take it back to their home countries with them. She was asked to work with a foreign exchange program and her mission expanded to include the sharing of cultures. She began working with International Student Exchange in 2012, and at the age of 72, she shows no sign of giving up the hard work. “God is big enough for me to find homes for these children,” she says.
As the regional manager, LaJuan is responsible for placing students all over Texas and New Mexico. “We’re always looking for dependable area reps!” was her response to my comment on the expanse of her region. An average of 50 students per year are placed through Dixon’s region of the non-profit organization. Students are between the ages of 15 and 18 and are considered fluent in English. Host families are fully vetted, undergoing background checks and home inspections before they are put in contact with a student. Host families do not pay fees to host, nor do they receive any compensation for hosting. Students bring their own spending money and have their own insurance. Mrs. Dixon compared hosting a child to adoption: “We want a loving family, that will take care of the students as if they are their own children.” There are more pragmatic requirements like providing three meals per day and a room (they can share a room as long as there are no more than four years difference in age), but LaJuan emphasizes her quest for families full of love.
Once background checks and inspections have been passed, a host family could be in contact with their student in as little as a week. If a family were to contact her today, a student from another country could well be in classes here before the fourth week of school. Families can choose the length and time of their assignment, so the application process can be completed now for the spring semester or a January-to-January assignment, or even the next school year. Children can be hosted for six months, twelve months, or during the school year (August-June).
For more information on the program, hosting a student, or joining as a student, visit ISEUSA.com or contact LaJuan Dixon at (855) 704-3340 or firstname.lastname@example.org.