International Student Exchange (ISE) is a nonprofit that brings high school students from all over the world to the United States to study.
Exchange students between the ages of 14 and 18 stay with volunteer host families and ISE is still placing students for the fall semester and needs more families on the Central Coast to help.
For Tennille Tunnel, part of her day is spent in the kitchen preparing lunches for her two boys and now a third member of the family, Bo, an exchange student from Germany.
This is the first time the Tunnels have been a host family but her family growing up hosted around five students, including Bo’s father.
“For me as a child, it was just such a great opportunity to get familiar or to see that the world is such a big place and maybe not such a scary place," Tunnell said.
While it’s only been three weeks with Bo, Tunnel says it’s already been a rewarding experience for her and her family.
“One of the best things for us today is that we get to re-experience life through her eyes, and so we made a trip to Hearst Castle a couple of weeks ago. You know, we get to see her excitement but also get to be that tour guide," Tunnell said.
“We ask families to treat them just like their own kids. If there are chores they have to do, have them do chores — if it’s washing dishes or putting out the trash — because that’s going to help integrate them into the family and make them feel part of the family," said Joey Banuelos, ISE Program Manager.
There is still a need for host families on the Central Coast.
“Right now, we’re looking at about between 15 to 20 students that still need homes," Banuelos explained.
The deadline for these students to find a home is August 31 and they are looking for families in the areas of Arroyo Grande and Atascadero.
This is an ongoing process and while the deadline is in just two days, ISE will begin seeking applications for the spring semester starting in September.
More information on becoming a host family can be found here.