Want to experience foreign cultures from your home? Got a big heart? And an extra room?

Miltonfamilies are needed to host foreign exchange students for the 2013-2014 school year. Families can select a student from Europe, Asia, Australia or South America. Host families provide meals, a home and family; students pay their own expenses like shopping and phone bills. Coordinators help match students with families based on similar interests in sports, hobbies and interests.

“That’s my job,” said Amanda Jo Bowden, the local coordinator for International Cultural Exchange Services. “To help make a good match.”

More than 250 students are waiting for a host family. They’ve gotten references from their school teachers, vaccinations, insurance, and their entire family has to pass a criminal background check. The approval process for high school students is more stringent than that of university students, Bowden said.

Interested families need to complete an online application, have references, and pass a background check. A representative with the exchange program will also conduct a home visit interview and check in on the exchange student monthly.

 “The host families that I’ve worked with get a big brother or big sister for their kids,” Bowden said. “It’s an opportunity to explore a different culture. This is really for international relations and to build that citizen diplomacy for cultural exchange.”

Some students come for one semester, or about five months, but most come for the whole nine-month school year.

 “They mainly come for a cultural exchange,” Bowden said.

For more information or to host a student, contact Amanda Jo Bowden at amandajobowden@gmail.com. Her office number is 565-1022 and her cell phone number is (513) 375-8865.