AFS Intercultural Programs/USA (formerly the American Field Service) is seeking host families in Clearfield County and the surrounding areas for five international high school exchange students arriving this fall.
These young people represent various countries, including Bangladesh, Portugal, Italy, Spain and Chile, and they are among the more than 2,000 international AFS students hosted in the United States each year.
“Being a host family is life-changing,” says Brittany Madera, who hosted for the first time this past year in Clearfield. “I could talk forever about what an amazing experience we’ve had with Ariana.
“This brave, hilarious, genuine, sweet, sassy, responsible, intelligent, thoughtful 15-year-old girl from Malaysia quickly made herself a part of our family through the AFS exchange program. Our minds and hearts grew a little larger since she was in our home.”
“Host families come in all varieties,” Brittany explains. “You can have young kids at home, be a single parent, be a same-sex couple, have no kids at all or be empty nesters.
“You can live in town or out in the boonies. You can drive a Mercedes Benz or a Toyota Camry. You can be religious or not. You can like mountain climbing or watching reality TV.
“And just like how host families can come in all varieties, so can the students who want to come here. If you’ve had the inkling that you might like to host a student ‘someday’, now is the time to check it out.”
Brittany’s husband, Jeremy Cutler, says he was hesitant to host at first. “We don’t even have any kids of our own, so when she mentioned hosting a teenager … I honestly thought she was crazy.
“But now that we’ve hosted Ariana, I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything. The house isn’t the same without hearing her singing along to K-pop music or making silly TikTok videos.
“We’re even planning on visiting her family in Malaysia this October.”
Jeremy says it was the words from one AFS volunteer, Marien Parsons, that convinced himself and Brittany to host. “You can always find reasons not to do something,” Marien had said. “It will never be the perfect time to host.”
Welcoming an AFS Student is a wonderful way to help change the world without leaving home. These students attend local high schools, participate in local community life and are encouraged to share aspects of their culture.