Officials in the Plattsburgh area are looking for host families for the Youth Ambassador Program taking place this summer.
It's a U.S. State Department initiative that involves several countries and host cities. And for the second year, Plattsburgh is hosting Canada this summer.
Plattsburgh's Jennifer Meschinelli wants cultural exposure for her 2 young daughters, Emma, 5, and Sara, 3. So last summer, she hosted 2 Canadian teenagers: Tiffany from Manitoba and Lindsee from Newfoundland.
“One of the reasons was, it was short-term and because they speak English,” said Jennifer Meschinelli. “So we were very attracted to that as kind of a test-run and see how it worked."
Organizers say the Youth Ambassador Program is a perfect test run for longer term foreign exchange students.
The program, funded by the U.S. State Department, is organized locally through SUNY Plattsburgh's Center for the Study of Canada.
Eighteen youths and 3 adults from Canada are coming to the Plattsburgh area from July 23-August 4.
They all need a host family to stay with.
“When we say family, that's very loosely,” explained Theresa Bennett, the Home Stay Coordinator for the Youth Ambassador Program. “It can be single people. It can be any configuration of family. We're trying to expose the youth and adults to family as it is in the United States and as you know that's very varied. Everyone's family is different."
“The values of the program are civic engagement, leadership and community service,” said Amy Sotherden, Assistant Director of SUNY’s Center for the Study of Canada. “It's really promoting American values to Canadians to help foster this relationship between Canada and the U.S. for greater understanding."
Part of the program includes a mandatory community service project when the teenagers return home to their communities in Canada.
“You get to know some absolutely wonderful people from another country. They're very high achieving,” said Bennett.
Just ask the Meschinellis, who now have international friends for life.
“Tiffany we friended on Facebook. I've sent them Christmas cards and everything so they could see the girls. The girls got really attached to them,” said Jennifer Meschinelli.
Now for more details:
You don't have to live in Plattsburgh to be a host family. However, you will be responsible for dropping off and picking up your guest at the SUNY campus every day.
The guest(s) will stay with the families from July 23-August 4. Families provide breakfast and dinner and rides to SUNY. The guests are busy from Monday-Saturday. Families have 2 Sundays with their guests.
After their time in Plattsburgh, the Youth Ambassadors will be heading to NYC and Washington DC before returning home to Canada.
Both the guests and the host families go through background checks.
For more information on how you can sign up, contact Theresa Bennett, the programs Home Stay Coordinator.
Phone: 518-564-2160 or 518-561-7894
You can also visit http://www.plattsburgh.edu/offices/academic/cesca/youthleadership2014.php for more information.