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Student exchange program looking for host families in Bakersfield

"It’s bridging the gap [of] families and students."
Posted at 5:04 AM, Nov 24, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-24 08:04:28-05

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. — “It’s amazing. It’s a great opportunity. Our family has grown from it," said Rebecca Herrera.

Rebecca has welcomed exchange students into her home for almost twenty years. She’s a program leader with Oui Connect, a program bringing students from across the globe to California.

Right now, they’re looking for host families in Bakersfield.

“My position is to find families that would be willing to allow them to come in and stay, learn a little about their family, kind of converse with them in English and learn a little bit about the country that they’re coming from," said Rebecca.

85 students ages 12 to 17 from Thailand are coming to Bakersfield for about a month in April. Host families will house the students during that time.

The students will take English language classes, visit local schools and go on excursions from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the day.

“The children just love it. They’re blown away that they get to go into an American school and see what it’s like for an American student," said Rebecca.

Program leaders also take them on trips to places like Los Angeles and San
Francisco. Rebecca said the exchange students get to improve their English and prepare to attend college in the U.S. someday, but host families benefit just as much.

“We get caught up in this life just about us and the things that we’re going through, you know? Life doesn’t have to be that way. We can really see it through the eyes of these children that come," she said.

Rebecca and her family have formed lifelong relationships with past students and have even traveled to visit them in their countries.

“It’s just a bridge. It’s bridging the gap [of] families and students and education, and it couldn’t be better. It’s just a good way of living," she said.

Oui Connect is asking host families to sign up as soon as possible. Click here to apply.