Fox Creek, PAX seek host parents for foreign students

Fox Creek High School and PAX Academic Exchange are currently looking for host parents for foreign exchange students.

PAX, which was founded in 1990, serves up to 1,100 high school students a year for the experience of international exchange. At Fox Creek, the school is looking to revitalize a program that has been dormant since 2009.

“Fox Creek is a suburban, rural school that consists of a significant number of students that have never had the opportunity to travel to foreign lands,” said Dr. Tom Murph, principal. “Our school consists almost entirely of North Augusta or Merriwether students. Since most of our students do not have the opportunity to see the world, our foreign exchange program brings the world to our students.”

Murph notes that the program had 14 exchange students in 2009. The school has hosted students from Germany, France, Russia, Sweden and China, among others.

“Having these students in our school gave our students a unique perspective of how the world is very different from culture to culture,” Murph said. “These foreign exchange students became among the most popular students in our school.”

As far as the experience of having an international student welcomed into a family’s home, Murph has heard only positive experiences.

“Those fortunate families that did have the opportunity to house an exchange student have told me on numerous occasions that it was one of the best experiences of their lives,” he said. “Many have asked to have the opportunity to house additional exchange students.”

Celia Albert, who is the community coordinator for the area, also has heard positive stories.

“I’ve been a coordinator for numerous students now, and my family has hosted several students in our home,” she said. “So I know first-hand what the benefits can be. There are a number of different reasons people may decide to host. ... The benefits can be the pleasure of making a difference in a student’s life to help them experience and visit or see things they may have never before. For instance, one of our students was from Brazil, and she wanted to see snow so much that our family took our usual trip to the mountains that fall and it happened to snow two inches.”

For Murph, he hopes that Fox Creek is able to build the program to approximately 30 students over the next three to five years.

“I feel that having a diverse student body will help our students get a broader understanding of the global economy that they live in,” he said. “Our world continues to shrink each year as technology brings us closer together. ... In 2013 there are very few places in the world that you cannot travel to in a day or less. Each year, our societies and cultures become more and more integrated.”

For more information on the program, call Albert at 706-868-9947. For schools in Aiken County, and PAX can place a student at any school, the deadline is May 15. Fox Creek has no deadline, and students can be placed at any time before the school year.

Scott Rodgers is a reporter at the North Augusta Star and has been with the paper since January 2013 after previously working at the Aiken Standard. He is a graduate of Alvernia University and currently attends Drexel University.