Sixty Sooke families are needed to share their home with a group of 14 to 18-year-old Japanese students who are coming here next month to get a taste of life in Canada.
The students are in Sooke for five nights between Oct. 25 and 30, and the organizers of the excursion, MLI Homestay, have issued an urgent call for host families.
“This is the sixth year that we’ve offered this opportunity to Japanese students. They register at their schools in Japan, and of the many hundreds that sign up only a few are selected to make the trip,” said Lynette Johner, MLI coordinator.
“They have to meet some pretty tough criteria and are very well screened. These are all great kids.”
This is the first year that MLI will bring students to Sooke, as they’re usually hosted in Langford and Belmont Secondary School.
“This year, we are bringing half the students to Edward Milne (Community School) and the other half to Belmont,” said Johner.
The application process to host a foreign student is quite thorough, said Johner, as MLI will meet with prospective hosts to answer questions and ensure that the accommodations meet a minimum standard.
Other rules, she said, include not having any other exchange students in the home at the time, as well as a restriction against single males from hosting students.
“Families are encouraged to share their typical daily life and invite their Japanese guests to join into simple family activities such as walking the dog, going to hockey practice, or grocery shopping,” said Johner.
The students will also join the families in meals.
MLI, in conjunction with the Sooke School District, will also give the students a chance to experience a Canadian high school experience and partake in some decidedly Canadian activities including curling, wilderness hiking, and ice skating.
In return, the students from Japan will share some presentations, dances, and songs in appreciation of their special Sooke stay.
And while host families will be compensated $225 for opening their homes to the students, Johner is quick to point out that hosts rarely are concerned about the money.
“This is a great experience for families. I’ve been a host in the past and I can tell you that I’d do it again in a heartbeat. Of the families who do host, 99.9 per cent of them want to do it again.”
Anyone interested in this culture-sharing opportunity are invited to register online at mlihomestay.com or telephone 250-216-4126.