The ASSE International Student Exchange Program is looking for LGBTQ and straight ally families or individuals to help host their exchange students. (The group was originally established as the American Scandinavian Student Exchange in 1976, but now serves students the world over.) Esther-Marie Emslie, the group’s area representative for Frederick and Washington counties, recently told Baltimore OUTloud about the first transgender student coming to Maryland this year. “We’re very excited about this,” Emslie adding that there’s also another student looking for a host family.

“Julia is a 16-year-old young lady from Spain. She speaks Spanish, English, and French and is a wonderful student urgently seeking a host family,” said Emslie. “She is one of the winners of a very competitive scholarship to come to America this year. Additionally, she is an advocate for the LGBTQ community in her town, as well as for feminism. Julia is a very active and creative girl! She is hardworking, and once she sets a goal in her head nothing can stop her! Her interests include gymnastics, singing, writing, reading, calligraphy, and playing the ukulele.”

Hosting an exchange student is an unforgettable experience, and the requirements are simple: a host family needs to be able to provide a bed for the student and three meals a day. All adults in the household need to pass a background check, and the program requests three references on the family prior to acceptance. The organization uses the term “family” loosely: as you do not need to have children at home, nor do you need to be married, to host an exchange student. You do need to have a stable household and meet the minimum requirements laid out above. Hosting a student is on a volunteer basis, but host families are eligible for a $50 tax deduction per student per month (15 days or more) that an exchange student lives with the family. But the rewards in terms of appreciation, respect, and love are immeasurable!

Simply by sharing your home for as little as three months, a semester, or a school year, you’ll be giving an exceptional young person from another country the opportunity of a lifetime – to live with your family and experience the language, customs, and culture of this country. In return, your exchange student will bring to your family a bit of his or her homeland. Students come from Europe, Asia/Pacific, the Middle East, the Americas, and Africa.

Each year, ASSE and its affiliates place several thousand exchange students, ages 15 to 18, in host families like yours throughout the world. ASSE International Student Exchange Programs invites you and your family to join all the families in our country and throughout the world in this memorable and valued cultural experience.

To find out more about how to become a host family for Julia or another student contact Ester-Marie Emslie (443-789-1927 or givinghope@outlook.com). Open your home to a new family member and share in their future!

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