foreign high school students


Two high school students — one from the Netherlands and one from Sweden— will soon call Marina del Rey “home” for the 2006-2007 school year.

That is, after they find host families.

Kim, from the Netherlands, and Sebastian, from Sweden, will come to Marina del Rey in August and stay the whole school year.

STS Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has been placing international students with host families for the past 20 years, is assisting Kim and Sebastian in this process.

“These students come with a purpose of becoming a member of the [host] family,” said Lillian Clemente, coordinator of STS Foundation. “They do activities together, [becoming] part of their family.”

Kim is 17, lives in the Netherlands and is in her last year of high school. She likes to draw, paint and scuba-dive. She calls herself artistic and loves the English language.

“For years, I’ve heard so much about America that I really want to experience it for myself,” Kim wrote in her personal essay.

She said she really wants to see things with her own eyes.

“I have heard from a lot of people that their year in America has taught them so much and I hope I’m going to learn as much as they did,” Kim said.

Sebastian is 15, lives in Sweden and loves fast cars.

He wants to come to the United States because “it seems so exciting and I want to meet new friends and learn better English.”

He’d like to give football and baseball a try and he also wants to try surfing and water sports.

Sebastian loves playing with his computer, watching TV and movies and playing video games.

Clemente points out that not only do exchange students like Kim and Sebastian learn about the American culture while staying with a host family, but the host family also gets a lesson in culture from the student.

“It’s an exchange culture,” Clemente said. “It’s a really great, interesting experience because the students learn a lot and the family learns a lot about [the other one’s] culture.”

Clemente said that STS Foundation spends time trying to find the best “fit” for both the exchange student and host family by finding common interests and similarities.

Kim and Sebastian — like any international exchange student —will have their own spending money and health insurance. All that is asked of the host family is to provide a separate bed — which can be in a shared bedroom — family meals and a safe environment. They can take the bus to school, Clemente said.

This is STS Foundation’s first time to work on finding Marina del Rey host families for exchange students.

“We just choose the best places,” Clemente said.

Clemente — a former exchange student herself, originally from Brazil — said that smaller areas like Marina del Rey work out better, because families seem to be more interested in hosting exchange students.

Kim and Sebastian will arrive in Marina del Rey in August to experience American culture for a full year while in school.

Clemente asks that anyone who is interested in being a host family call her at (800) 522-4678 or e-mail her at lillian@stsfoun or visit the Web site,