Sally Hart, Academic Coordinator for Cultural Homestay International, was in studio Tuesday morning to talk to WPKY about the program that allows exchange students to attend school in the US.

Cultural Homestay International, or CHI, is a non profit organization that was founded in 1980 as a way to promote international understanding and goodwill through people to people exchanges. Families host a high school student from another country for one school year allowing the student to pursue opportunities that may not be available in their home countries.

Sally told listeners that she stumbled across the program by chance while she was at a high school tennis match in Paducah. She asked the lady sitting beside her which child was hers and was confused when the woman pointed out four students. The woman then revealed that two of them were foreign exchange students; one was from South America, the other was from Belgium. Sally expressed interest in the program and the woman told her they were looking for an academic coordinator. That was several years ago and Sally has been able to place several students with host families since, including her own family. Her family has hosted three students, one of which Sally considers part of the family.

As an Academic Coordinator Sally’s job is to place exchange students with host families. She matches families with students based on shared interests so that the transition is easy for all involved. But her job doesn’t end there, she stays in constant contact with the exchange student to make sure things are going well. She also meets with the host family several times during the student’s stay to make sure the student is following the family’s guidelines and is available should problems arise. She will be there to help rectify any issues should they arise.

Sally then told listeners that the steps to becoming a host family are easy. Background checks are required for all members of the family over 18, the student must have a bed just for them (rooms may be shared with other members of the family, but they can’t share a bed), the student will need a place to keep all of their clothing, and host families are required to feed them three meals a day. Sally did mention that during most of that time the student will be in school, so one meal would be taken care of on those days. Exchange students will have their own health insurance and will bring their own spending money.

Sally expressed that the students who participate in the program really want to be here and go through a long application process just to get the opportunity to come. So far all of the students she’s had experiences with, whether they were ones she hosted herself or helped place in homes, have been extremely helpful to their host families and were open to following all the host family’s guidelines.

Families will host students from August to May and the students will stay the entire time, most do not return home for visits during that time. Sally mentioned that she was unable to place any students here in Caldwell County for this school year because she was unable to find host families, so she is really looking for host families for the 2018/2019 year. Exchange students who have completed the application process can not participate until a host family chooses them, so many students around the world are forced to wait.

Anyone interested in the Cultural Homestay International program can call Sally at 270-625-5162 or you can also visit for more information.

You can catch the full interview with Sally Hart, and special guest Bob Hayes who dropped in to speak about his great experience with an exchange student he hosted, below.