The Canada World Youth exchange program will be returning to Sooke this year, and requires 10 host families to share the experience.
The Sooke-South Africa Youth Leadership Action program will take nine Canadians and nine South Africans for three-month stays in Sooke and Kaylitsha, Capetown.
From December to March, the 18 youth, aged 17-24, will be in Sooke for the second leg of the program, living with host families and engaging in volunteer activities within the community.
“It’s such an intense and rich experience, it’ll almost be like visiting South Africa without leaving home,” said Heather Fisher, project supervisor.
“That’s how well you get to know these young people from other parts of the country and the world.”
On occasion, the relationships pass the test of time, with youth staying in touch with their host families for decades after the program.
“There are lots of stories of host families going overseas to the country where their youth lives and visiting them,” Fisher said.
All people from different walks of life are encouraged to apply to be a host family.
“We want the ethnic and cultural diversity of Sooke to be represented in our host families,” she said.
“The youth are here to learn how to be better leaders and engage in their communities in helpful and meaningful ways. People who are community minded and community engaged would be great mentors for these youth.”
Requirements include unoccupied rooms for two youth, with a double or two single beds. It’s also preferred if the residence is within walking distance of a bus stop.
Host families will also receive a weekly allowance of $168.
The focus of this year’s programming is youth leadership and health from a broad perspective.
“This program is actually a health-oriented program, but we look at a very broad definition of health,” Fisher said.
“We’re hoping that the youth will get an opportunity to engage in all the different organizations and services related to healthy communities and healthy living in Sooke.”
Prior to their stay on Canadian soil, the youth will be in Capetown with their South African host families from September to December.
CWY is a non-profit organization, aimed at developing international educational programs for youth.
In previous years, the Youth Leadership Action program has brought youth from South Africa, Mozambique, Kenya, Ukraine, Uruguay and Indonesia to Sooke.
In order to apply to become a Sooke host family, contact Fisher at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 250-885-2776. The application deadline is Aug.15.