Baker, Stover to host youth exchange students

More host families needed for U.S. Department of State programs

Douglas D. Baker and Dana L. Stover

Douglas D. Baker and Dana L. Stover

NIU’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) and the International Training Office (ITO) are actively seeking host families for two U.S. Department of State youth leadership programs this spring.

Among those who have signed up so far are NIU President Doug Baker and First Lady Dana Stover.

CSEAS is looking for families to host for one week – Sunday, April 6, through Sunday, April 13 – for 50 high school students and 11 adult leaders participating in Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program. ITO is looking for families to act as hosts for two weeks – Monday, April 21, through Saturday, May 3 – for 24 students and 4 adult leaders participating in its Philippine Youth Leadership Program.

The Bakers will be hosting two female high school students from Southeast Asia for a week during the SEAYLP session. “We are delighted that the Bakers will be joining our program as a host family this year,” said CSEAS Director Judy Ledgerwood. “It’s an excellent introduction to these exceptional youth leadership programs.”

This is the seventh time SEAYLP has been held at NIU, but the first session to include students from ten countries: Brunei, Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam. Prior sessions involved only five countries.

“We have twice as many host families to find for this program as in previous sessions, but it is part of making space for an interaction spanning all the countries and the U.S. And that is a great thing to be part of,” said administrative director Maria Nihei. “Participants consistently rate their time living with an American family as the best part of the program.”

Engineering professor Michael Haji-Sheikh and his family hosted Aman from Malaysia, third from left, and Aez from Brunei, far right, in the first session of the Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program (SEAYLP) at NIU in fall 2009. The Haji-Sheikhs have frequently hosted for both SEAYLP and the Philippines Youth Leadership Program.

Engineering professor Michael Haji-Sheikh and his family hosted Aman from Malaysia, third from left, and Aez from Brunei, far right, in the first session of the Southeast Asia Youth Leadership Program (SEAYLP) at NIU in fall 2009. The Haji-Sheikhs have frequently hosted for both SEAYLP and the Philippines Youth Leadership Program.

For the past 11 years, PYLP has brought young people and adult leaders from the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao and surrounding provinces in the Philippines to NIU for four weeks under the direction of anthropology professor Susan Russell and ITO Director Lina Davide-Ong. The host-family experience has also been a popular part of PYLP, said PYLP home-stay coordinator Leslie Shive, who herself has hosted more than 20 participants over the years.

“Hosting has made a huge impact on our family through the unique opportunity of being ambassadors without leaving home,” Shive said. “At the same time, we learned firsthand about another culture, increasing our awareness of the world and encouraging us to be engaged globally.”

Leslie Shive

Leslie Shive

With both SEAYLP and PYLP, students are placed in pairs and adults can be placed as singles. Host families provide a bed for each participant, breakfast each day and most dinners, all meals during any weekend days at home, and transportation to and from class sessions at NIU.

SEAYLP home-stay applications are available online and are due by Saturday, March 15; families will be notified of their matches by late March. CSEAS will hold an orientation for host families from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Monday, March 31, and a farewell reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday, April 21. For details, contact SEAYLP home-stay coordinator Liz Denius at (815) 753-1901 or edenius@niu.edu.

PYLP home stay applications are available online. PYLP home-stay orientation is at 7 p.m. Monday, April 16. The free weekend with the family is April 26 and 27, and the farewell reception is 3 to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 4. For more information, contact Shive at (815) 753-9546 or lshive@niu.edu.

Both programs are funded by the State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs.

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