Host families needed
Those interested in being host families should contact Theresa Bennett: Theresa.firstname.lastname@example.org, 564-2160, 561-7894
A group of students and adults from some of the poorest countries in the world is coming to Plattsburgh to study leadership and government.
Afterward, the Francophone African youth and adults will return to make a difference in their own countries.
But first, they need host families to live with during their Plattsburgh visit.
“They will be transported here and from here, so people are not responsible for picking up,” said Theresa Bennett, home-stay coordinator for the Youth Leadership Program at Plattsburgh State.
Over the course of two visits — one in the spring and the other the fall — 60 youth and adults will travel from sub-Saharan Africa to Plattsburgh State to study youth leadership, American government and more.
The program is funded by a U.S. State Department, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs grant. The $330,000 grant awarded to Plattsburgh State and the Program for African Growth through Education was the only one of its kind given this year.
In addition to lessons about leadership and government, visitors will take part in team-building, community mapping, civic responsibility, ethics and community-service activities.
The first group is visiting March 25 through April 9, while the second visit is Sept. 16 through Oct. 6. The first group is from Burkina Faso, Chad and Niger.
“These are countries we really never had international students from,” said Marguerite Adelman, program director. “This is an amazing opportunity to education ourselves and learn about a part of the world we may never travel to.”
The last week of the trip is spent in Albany and Washington D.C., so host families are needed for the first two weeks.
“Someone in the family needs to speak French, and I think that is why we are having difficult finding host families,” Bennett said. “We are not looking for a high level of French. But someone needs to be comfortable with French.”
Each household can host one or two guests.
There will be orientations for the host families to learn more about the culture of the participants.
“Through home stays, participants will be able to see first-hand what it is like to live in an American home,” said Dr. Bryan Higgens, director of international education at Plattsburgh State. “At the same time, they will be sharing their cultural background, enriching the lives of members of the Plattsburgh community.”
“It is very rare you can have this much of an impact on someone in such a short time,” Bennett said.
Dr. Jean Ouedraogo sees the exchanges as a boost to the local economy.
“The federal funds will translate directly into an employment opportunity for folks within the college and local community and indirectly for service providers,” said the program director. “Beyond such immediate positive impacts, we are hopeful that SUNY Plattsburgh will become part of the mix of U.S. colleges that students from the six countries consider in the future, bringing tuition dollars to the college.
“Above all, the future leaders to come out of this extraordinary experience will always associate our community with their success.”
Participants in the program will visit government agencies and schools, providing an opportunity to local language and social studies teachers “to engage their students and their visiting peers in an enlightening give and take,” Ouedraogo said.
“Truly, it's a long-lasting gift to participants and host families,” he said. “The students will still carry with them the positive outlook and vibrancy of leadership we will awaken in them. We can unleash potential in people we may never see again, but who will be forever grateful.”