Have you ever had the urge to experience international culture, but don't want to leave Alaska? If you happen to have an extra bedroom, AFS-USA Alaska would love for you to be a foreign exchange student host parent.

Families from across the state are currently hosting 30 students from a wide range of countries: Pakistan, Norway, Spain, France, Italy, Indonesia, Germany, The Netherlands, Thailand, Japan, Bosnia Herzegovina, Bulgaria, India, Malaysia, Latvia, Portugal, Tanzania, Lebanon, Austria, Chile.

Host families can vary and all are welcome to apply, according to AFS Alaska. Single parents, same-sex couples, retirees, and even couples with no children can host a student for one semester or an entire school year.

 
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Patty Ortiz Perham's family is hosting Filippo Romersa, a student from Italy. She says she was inspired to welcome a foreign exchange student into her home after her son studied abroad. A lot of trust is required when sending your child to a foreign land, but Ortiz Perham says that studying abroad is a great experience for everyone involved.

"These students are making friends right here in Alaska, but from all over the world and there's no greater thing than just learning about other students, other kids, other people that are the same but different," Ortiz Perham said. "It's a great time of their life to just really be exposed to so many different cultures and people."

Mathias Martetschlaeger, a student from Austria, says he loves sharing his culture, but was drawn to Alaska for a true U.S. experience.

"I would say the culture, because you often hear it from TV and social media," he said. "America is a real big influence now, in modern days."

Filippo Romersa, who's from Italy, was also excited about sharing his culture with others.

"In America, I can share my Italian culture," he said. "They love hearing about my culture and I love [to hear about] their culture."

If you are interested, AFS Alaska is looking for host families for the 2019-2020 school year. You can find out more by checking out www.afsusa.org/host-family.

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