TALLADEGA COUNTY -- Area coordinators for Education First High School Exchange Year are actively searching for local families interested in hosting foreign exchange students for the 2019-20 school year.

“It’s an incredibly rewarding experience and a wonderful opportunity to learn more about other cultures,” said EF High School Exchange Coordinator Dale Higgins.

“It’s really life-changing. It’s like gaining another family member. By being a host family, you are providing a once-in-a-lifetime experience they’ll never forget.”

Over the last several weeks, Higgins has been actively posting in local community groups such as “What’s Happening Childersburg & Sylacauga,” hoping to find interested host families.

“There is still time to apply and host a student,” he said. “We also have coordinators all across the state and country if you know of anyone else who might be interested.”

According to its website, EF High School Exchange has more than 450 offices in 50 countries.

“The students come for either one semester or one school year,” Higgins said. “Host families are able to view different student biographies so they can find the best student suited for their lifestyle and personality.”

According to Higgins, the program has several requirements for interested hosts. 

“You have to be over the age of 25 and complete the application and pass a background check,” Higgins said. “Interested hosts must also provide a bed for the student to sleep in, provide three meals a day, reasonable transportation to and from school and extracurricular activities.”

Higgins said the most important requirement is that hosts provide a loving and nurturing environment.

“You don’t have to be married or have other children,” Higgins said. “There is also no maximum age requirement.”

Throughout his time with the exchange program, Higgins has hosted nine students from all across the globe, he said.

“We all still keep in touch,” he said. “I just came back from Germany visiting a former student. I’ve also had several come back to visit me. They know they will always have a home here if they need it.”

According to its website, EF High School Exchange is the world's largest private educational institution. It was founded in 1965 and offers a variety of educational programs.

EF’s mission is to “break down barriers in language, culture and geography.”

Additionally, EF has helped “millions of people of all ages and nationalities become citizens of the world,” the website notes. 

For more information on the program, visit, www.efexchangeyear.org or contact Higgins at 205-531-5689.