FAIRBORN — Fairborn’s Community Park became an international gathering place Sunday when AFS exchange students from around the world, along with their American host families, met for their official Welcome Picnic.
Operating in more than 50 countries, the AFS International Programs provide students with intercultural learning experiences that bring global cultures together. This year, there are currently 22 students attending 10 area high schools, including several in Greene County. In 2013, there were 17 students.
“We have even more in the Dayton area than last year,” said Stacey Frey, AFS Liaison and former Fairborn Primary School teacher. She and Marla Gamble, a Foreign Exchange Coordinator for the Dayton Area Chapter of AFS, joined the “welcome families” for the Aug. 24 picnic, where they mingled with the incoming students.
“This year, they come from Columbia, China, The Netherlands, Mexico, Japan, Switzerland, Norway, Austria, Senegal, Italy, Brazil, Ghana, Spain, The Czeck Republic, Iceland, Bolivia, Thailand and The Ukriane,” Frey said.
Having arrived in the United States in early August, the students will be living with their host families and attending area high schools for the entire 2014-2015 school year. Local high schools hosting this year’s AFS students are Bellbrook, Fairborn, Madison, Oakwood, Sidney, Tippecanoe, Wayne, Waynesville, West Carrolton and Yellow Springs.
According to Gamble, who is also a retired Fairborn teacher, Fairborn and Yellow Springs are the most active in the area when it comes to finding hosts for AFS students.
“One family from Yellow Springs has, over the years, hosted 28 students from around the world,” Frey said.
For more information about becoming a host family or studying abroad, contact Marla Gamble at 937-233-6190 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about AFS, visit their website at www.afs.org/usa.
Amanda Crowe is editor of the Fairborn Daily Herald covering Fairborn, Yellow Springs, Enon and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Contact her by phone at 937-502-4532 or on Twitter @FairbornHerald.