Cultural Homestay International or CHI is an exchange student program based in San Anselmo, California with local coordinators throughout the US. Founded in 1980, CHI places about 800 students per year from many different countries. These students are the “cream of the crop” from their schools. They must have letters of recommendation from teachers and have good grades and pass the application process.

CHI is currently looking for families interested in hosting a student for the second semester of the current school year. Students will arrive after Christmas and leave at the end of the school year. “We will begin in January looking for families interested in full year students for the 2014-2015 school year,” said Jana Jackson, the Developing Area Program Administrator. “All students are between ninth-twelfth grade. The students come with their own spending money to include school supplies, clothing, meals out, entertainment, etc., and they also come with health and dental insurance.”

Host families are asked to provide room and board (meals within the home), and the student must have their own bed, although they are allowed to share a room with a same sex child. Hosts can be married or single, with or without children.

Families interested in hosting must complete an applications process, must not be on any type of government assistance, and will be required to pass a criminal background check.

“Families are not paid to host a student but the experiences gained are priceless,” said Jackson, who works primarily as a liaison between the student, host family, and the school to make sure that everything goes smoothly and to help with any issues that may arise. “We work hard to try to match the right student with the right family according to interests and other criteria so that the match is successful. We know that there may be issues from time to time but my job is to help resolve those issues so the student and the family have a great experience. This is such a great opportunity for the student and also for your own family to experience another culture and the differences and the similarities between us.”

In addition to Jana, there are two Coordinators locally who also help match students to families. If you have any questions or are interested in hosting, contact Jana Jackson at (325) 998-2698 (jjackson@txchi.org), Jared Trowbridge at (325) 642-2598 (jtrowbridge@txchi.org), or Clairissa Piper at (325) 203-6546 (cpiper@txchi.org), or visit the website at www.chinet.org.