For two years in a row one South Texas family has opened their home and their hearts to exchange students who are looking to enhance their education.

For approximately 10 months, Gustavo Barros de Oliveira from Brazil and Megan De Rouck from Belgium lived with the Villarreal family of Alice.

Angelica and Juan Villarreal first came across a social media post about hosting exchange students and began to research the program. The first students they hosted were teenage girls; one from Thailand and the other from Germany.

As another school year approaches Susan Hicks with International Student Exchange (ISE) program is searching for families in South Texas who would like to be a host.

The state departments main reason for helping facilitate this is to foster world peace and a greater knowledge of other people and countries, Hicks stated. These kids go home with great impressions of the U.S.

Exchange students come from Germany, Brazil, Vietnam, China among others between the ages of 15 and 18.

The students would arrive at the end of August, attend local high schools, have their own spending money, health insurance and most students would take the bus to school.

Anyone willing to allow the exchange students to enter their home is making a difference in these young people’s lives.

This program is not a travel plan. It is a cultural exchange. The students want to see how people live in America and improve their English skills. These kids are the cream of the crop and want to have a good year, so they make sure to do what is expected of them and be successful on the program.

Families can pick the student that best fits their family. Families are all different. Teenagers do not need to be in the home and if more than one child is chosen in one family they can share a room. The host does not need to have children in the home and can be off any age.

All students need is their own bed (can be a twin) and can share a room with a same sex sibling who is within six years age difference.

Hicks would be in contact with the families and their students monthly. She would visit with the students for gathering throughout the year to ensure the families and students were doing well.

Kids will be placed from now until August 31, but really need to get families lined up as soon as possible, Hicks stated.

For more information about what it is like to host a student or how to host one of the students above contact Hicks at 361-876-1539 or smhicks@stx.rr.com.