Seven Kinnelon families will be bringing a global experience into their homes this summer when they host international high school students from Spain, China, Italy, Germany and France.
The families will be participating in an international student host program run by EF Language Travel.
"We are a non-profit that brings international high school students to NJ each summer in an effort to break down barriers of culture, language, and geography," Mary Ramsden, a Kinnelon resident who works for EF Language Travel, said.
As part of the program, the international students spend Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. studying at Drew University in Madison. For half of the day, they learn in the classroom and the other half they visit museums, take trips to New York City and experience New Jersey. At the end of each day, they return to their host families' homes.
"The students will be in Kinnelon in the evenings and on the weekends. They will participate with the family as if they were one of their own kids," Ramsden said. "So whatever the family does on the weekends, the kids will go along. "
Last summer, Ramsden said she hosted one of the students and it was a positive experience.
"Last year when I hosted, the students came to the Smoke Rise lake with us, to my daughter’s swim meets, to her horseback riding lessons and just hung out at our home," she said.
Kinnelon resident Gina Harriz and her family will serve as hosts to one of the students this summer.
"To give a student a home for a few weeks will be more a gift for us as it will be for our guest," Harriz said.
Harriz, a mother of 11-year-old triplets, said now is a good time to host an international student because her own children are old enough to take interest in the surrounding world and to benefit from the experience of becoming close to someone from another country. She also said having someone in the house who speaks another language will be great exposure for her kids.
"Plus we get to share our culture and customs as they share theirs with us," she said.
Harriz and her family are already brainstorming ideas for what to do with their visitor, a 13- or 14-year-old girl.
"My daughter is excited and looking forward to meeting her 'summer sister!'" Harriz said.
Among the activities planned, and depending on the student's interests, Harriz said they will likely enjoy the local beaches and hiking trails, take an overnight backpacking trip and weekend trip tp Plymouth or Williamsburg, catch an off-Broadway show, see the Statute of Liberty and Ellis Island and enjoy adventures in New York City.
"We’re lucky we live close to so many awesome adventure options that it will be hard to choose," Harriz said. "So we’ll line everything up and then make decisions once we have our student assignment."