World Link looking for host families for international students

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Posted at 5:10 PM, Jun 20, 2024

HELENA — Students from throughout the world come to the United States every year to not only study in our schools but to gain a better understanding of our American culture. And without the help of gracious host moms and dads, their education wouldn’t be possible.

“But when you actually bring somebody from a different part of the world you get like a real piece of like what is actually happening over there. And like discover that, you know what, they’re just like we are,” says Local Coordinator with World Link, Jen Howard.

World Link connects students from throughout the world to families right here in Montana and throughout the country. These students are hand-picked by the State Department through two different programs: the FLEX program which picks students from former Soviet countries and the YES program which picks students from predominantly Muslim countries.

Right now, Howard is looking for host families right here in Helena. Host families are ideally 25 or older and can be single or families. These English-speaking students are already on a scholarship with access to a medical plan, school fees paid, and a monthly allowance. Host families only need to provide food, a bed, and transportation. Howard, who has been a host herself, says this is a great way to bring the world to your doorstep.

“They really become a part of your family. They’re not just a guest in your home. They really become like your son or daughter. And, you know, most of the time, like, a lot of the families end up going and visiting the students later on or they come to visit,” says Howard.

Ahmed Fehri returned to Tunisia about a week ago after spending 10 months in the U.S. with the Howard family. He attended East Helena High School where he was placed as a senior. He traveled throughout Montana and other states like California, New York, and Colorado.

“I liked how the community is very close to each other, and everyone helps each other and a lot of people know each other. And if someone needs any help with anything or with a project or someone is doing an event everyone will show up and help them realizing whatever they want to do,” says Fehri.

During his time in the U.S., Fehri played soccer and joined the wrestling team. He volunteered at a food bank and animal shelter. He also organized a chili cook-off that raised $800 for the Montana Hope Project.

“And I really think this adventure made me more open-minded and more open to more ideas, more opinions...” says Fehri.

If you’re interested in becoming a host yourself, you can reach out directly to World Link.