The Town of Stony Plain is holding an open house for families interested in learning more about the Shikaoi Exchange Program, specifically hosting Shikaoi students. The event is on Wednesday, July 19 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at the Town Office in Council Chambers.
The Student Exchange Program, and corresponding Host Family Program, is a life-changing experience for both hosts and students. Participating in the program results in students and host families gaining new knowledge, a greater cultural understanding, and building meaningful relationships.
Marvin Sarauer and his family have been a Shikaoi exchange student host family for four years. “It has been an exceptional experience for both my family and me. Every year when we go to pick up the students, we are excited and nervous all at the same time. We loved learning about the Japanese culture and traditions and sharing ours.”
This year, more than 30 host families are needed to house over 80 exchange students from Shikaoi, Japan. The deadline for host family applications is Friday, September 1, 2017. The Japanese delegation is set to arrive in Stony Plain on September 29 and depart October 10. The Town plans a variety of fun events for the delegation to participate in during their stay.
Leanne Carpenter and her husband Clint have also opened up their home to Shikaoi students, “It was one of the most rewarding experiences that my family has had and we thoroughly enjoyed it.”
The open house will provide beverages, information packages and brochures, as well as a slideshow presentation. Community members, who have previously participated in the exchange program as either host families or delegates, will be available to speak about their experiences.
Melissa Lukey has also been a host family, “I would tell potential families, it is a little extra work to host students, but they become part of your family very quickly, so it’s fun! Also, the students English is generally pretty good and charades goes a long way.”
The towns of Stony Plain and Shikaoi have been twinned for more than 30 years. Every year, the towns are excited to send delegates overseas and host international visitors back at home. The relationship’s created between Stony Plain, Shikaoi, and their residents have grown into a strong friendship.
“It’s amazing that in only 10 days you can create a connection with teenagers from half way around the world. We have such a different culture, but we have so many similarities as well. It is an experience of a lifetime,” says Shauvonne and Mike Hubick.
Exchange programs provide participants with an affordable and safe way to gain a new perspective on their own culture, exposure to Shikaoi’s culture, and a stronger understanding of the role they play in the international community.
For more information on the Shikaoi Student Exchange Program or to apply as a host family, visit our website: www.stonyplain.com/japan
For more information, contact:
Stephanie Barsby Boisvert
Corporate Communications Officer
Town of Stony Plain
Manager,Community Services Programs
Town of Stony Plain