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Global Friendships desperately seeking hosts to house Spanish students

Thursday, June 12, 2014 - Updated: 10:12 AM


C-S-E Editor

Global Friendships, a program that annually places foreign students in local homes, is seeking potential hosts. The students, which range in age from 14-17, will travel from Spain, a majority of them from Madrid and Barcelona, arriving on June 29, staying for 28 days.

Regional Coordinator Erica Fitzpatrick, who became involved with the program after having several successful hosting experiences, is looking to place 21 students in an area spanning numerous counties. Potential hosts are sought in Amsterdam, Fonda/Fultonville, Johnstown, Gloversville, Canajoharie, Fort Plain, St. Johnsville, Little Falls, Herkimer and the general surrounding areas.

"These kids love the same things our teens like," said Fitzpatrick, mentioning that the students like "sports and hanging out with friends."

The Spanish students will take numerous trips while they're here, including to New York City, Niagara Falls, Darien Lake, a DiamondDawgs game, Sylvan Beach, Flight, and Destiny, USA in Syracuse for shopping. The kids will also have a welcome and farewell party, where they will attend a barbecue with all the other visitors and hosts.

Hosts are welcome to come on the trips (some are first come, first served), and the group rate for entry will be extended.

The students pay for their own trips, as they are equipped with their own money and are fully insured. 

English should be the primary language spoken in the host home, as one of the goals of sending the students to the USA is for them to improve their already-excellent English skills -- a goal of the trip being for the students to broaden their educational horizons as well as their worldliness. "It's all about culture, so that these kids have an idea of what's going on in the rest of the world," Fitzpatrick said, explaining that the students also have a lot to teach their hosts.

Fitzpatrick, who has hosted three years in a row, said that her horizons have been significantly broadened by the experience, as she's befriended not only the kids and other host families, but the families of the students, who have invited her to come stay in their homes, of which she said, "I plan to take them up on that at some point."

"This is the trip of a lifetime for these kids. They'll make memories that will last forever," said Fitzpatrick, who said that she's in an incredible hurry to make placements as soon as possible. "I'd hate not to be able to facilitate that," she said, continuing, "I don't want to let them down."

If the kids aren't placed by the time they arrive, they get put in emergency placements, which might mean that Fitzpatrick may have numerous students staying with her. Since the host has contact with the students' family prior to sending them, some parents decide not to send their kids if placements haven't been made.

"I do not want to let this group of kids down," she said.

Basically anybody can be a host, from families, to married couples, to retired couples, to single parents. A bed and transportation must be provided, although the student does not require their own room. Three meals a day must also be provided, although on some days, students will be eating meals during their travels. Fitzpatrick does a brief home check for all interested hosts.

Those wishing to host, or to learn more about Global Friendships, may contact Fitzpatrick at (518) 774-6327.


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