For the first time since the program started almost three decades ago, a local family is hosting an exchange student through the Pacific Intercultural Exchange.
Eun Hye Song, 16, from South Korea will start the school year at Moffat County High School next year while she stays with host family Michelle and Jesse Macavoy and their two children.
The high school allows for one foreign exchange student per year, a position that is usually filled by an exchange student through a similar program offered by Craig's Rotary Club.
Pacific Intercultural Ex-change directors are still seeking host families in Hayden and Steamboat Springs to take on exchange students.
Michelle Macavoy said she hopes that bringing a foreign student into her home will bring her family closer to different cultures and ideas.
"I hope it opens their eyes to the world around them," she said.
Michelle is the area representative for the Pacific Intercult-ural Exchange.
"I think it's important for people to know that everybody is about the same no matter where they come from," she added.
The Pacific Intercultural Exchange program offers foreign students a chance to live and go to school in the United States and also offers local students a chance to study abroad.
So far the Pacific Intercultural Exchange has yet to send a local student on an exchange program. However, a local student will study in China next year through the Rotary's exchange student program.
Finding local students who want to live and study in other countries is a greater challenge than locating students who want to come to the U.S., said Teresa Knapp, regional coordinator for Pacific Intercultural Exchange.
"Getting parents to let American kids to go overseas is not easy," she said. "What amazes me is that those from overseas are more than eager to come here."
Either way, an exchange opportunity is a good way to bridge cultures, Knapp said.
"Families get a child in their home and a lifelong friend," she said. "In those 10 months, the students get to learn about what it's like to be an American teen-ager. Others get to learn about different cultures."
Song will stay with the Macavoys for 10 months starting in late August.
One of the benefits to host families working with the Pacific Intercultural Exchange is that foreign students bring their own spending money.
"Mostly all you have to do is provide a home and a bedroom," Macavoy said.
Families can be reimbursed $50 a month as a charitable donation on their tax forms for hosting exchange students, but the program offers no other financial reimbursement for hosting exchange students.
Exchange students through the Pacific Intercultural Exchange from foreign countries forgo the year's advancement to the next grade in their respective country of origin.
However, Knapp said, the experiences students learn by studying and traveling abroad often more than make up for that.
"It's a priceless opportunity for them," she said.
In the last six years, Craig citizen Elaine Sullivan has hosted two exchange students through the Rotary's program. One was from Australia, and the other from New Zealand.
"If anybody has the opportunity, I think they should do it," she said. "It was a great experience."
Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.