After emergency, new host family sought for BSHS exchange student
The three exchange students at Bonner Springs High School have reported enjoying their time in America so far, but one needs help from the community.
Hoyjae Lee was placed with a family in western Shawnee, but because Mill Valley High School wasn’t able to take foreign exchange students, BSHS agreed he could attend school in Bonner. Now, a medical emergency with his host family means that Lee needs a new family to stay with.
Kathy Petermann, a coordinator with the Council on International Education Exchange, said she has been trying to find a new family for Lee by getting the word out to people in Bonner Springs, going through several local churches and other groups. She would like to broaden the network to western Shawnee, as well, if they would be willing to transport Lee to BSHS.
“All they have to do is fill out an application online, and I need to come and interview them,” she said. “They just have to have an open heart and a willing soul to do this. I’ve been doing this for several years, placing students in homes, and I personally have hosted, and I truly think you get more out of it than you give.”
When The Chieftain spoke with BSHS’s three exchange students last week, Lee, 15, said he hopes to become a graphic designer and might like to move to America some day because he likes America’s form of government.
He has visited California twice and speaks very fluent English. His mother also studied in America while in college and is still close with her host family, so he hopes to find a similar situation.
Lee is Christian, with a younger brother and a dog at home in Korea, where he has a job at a museum. In the biography he provided to the exchange program he said he likes to play basketball and computer games and loves reading history books. He also likes visiting nursing homes and helping seniors and wants to “learn how to be an independent spirit.”
He was a Boy Scout in Korea and has been working with Bonner Springs Boy Scout Troop 149 since arriving in Kansas.
Lee is to stay in the country until no more than two weeks after the end of the school year. Host families help on a volunteer basis and are not technically paid, though they can receive a $50 tax deduction for each month they host the student.
A host family must provide the student with his own bed, but he can share a bedroom with another child of the same gender and about the same age. Host families also provide meals for the students.
Petermann visits the host families once a month to check in on the students.
Petermann said being a host family can be a great experience for empty-nesters and retirees, who often report truly enjoying their exchange students, but the other two students at BSHS are staying families with children still at home.
In August, the exchange student organization also was scrambling to find a family for BSHS Egyptian exchange student Nouran Abdelaziz. Petermann said Abdelaziz ended up with the Broome family, who have six children of their own. In that case, the children insisted the family make room for her after hearing their parents discuss it.
Jenny Osei, exchange student from Germany, also found a home with the Hammonds family after their daughter learned about the exchange program.
“She was so excited about doing this, she gave up her bedroom and is sharing a bedroom with her sisters, so that Jenny could have a bedroom,” Petermann said.
For more information about becoming a host family, contact Petermann at 913-244-9992 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit ciee.org/highschool.