Sign-up underway for Lakewood families to host exchange students

LAKEWOOD — Marysville resident Diane Tillman is currently interviewing families interested in making a difference by hosting a high school student on a full scholarship provided by the U.S. State Department.

These teens are coming to Lakewood High School in August on the Youth Exchange and Study Program. Created by the State Department in response to the events of Sept. 11, 2001, the YES Program brings high school students from countries with significant Muslim populations to live and study in the U.S. for a year. The goal is to promote cultural diversity and religious understanding.

These children are ambassadors of their countries and are excited to learn about how we live and learn in the United States. The YES students will be spending their school year here. In a highly competitive process, these students have been selected from thousands of applicants for their outgoing personalities, academic abilities and leadership potential. YES students are provided with full medical insurance and a monthly government stipend.

Tillman, a YES Cluster Director with PAX, loves working with the students she places in her community. YES students look forward to living like American teens for one school year, joining sports teams, studying for exams and participating fully in family life.

PAX families provide students with meals, a place to sleep and study, and a warm, supportive environment. Private rooms are not required and single parents, young couples and retirees are welcome to apply. Families can host a student for the full school year or offer to be a "welcome" family for 6-8 weeks, until the student is moved to a permanent home.

For information on hosting or to select a student, call Tillman at 360-657-1897, or the PAX national office at 800-555-6211, ext. 304.

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