Forty-one high school students from Germany are now living with host families in northern Utah for the next several weeks as part of the Adventure Homestays Abroad program.
The young Germans flew into the Salt Lake City International Airport last week, where they met and were taken home by their host families.
They will stay about three weeks with families in Bountiful, Centerville, Farmington, Kaysville, Layton, Clearfield and Clinton. There's also one student in a Hooper household and another in West Jordan. The students traveled to the United States with four German chaperones.
Michelle Millburn, the regional director for Adventure Homestays Abroad, said Utah's popularity for such visits really began to increase after the 2002 Winter Olympics. "They really just wanted to be in Utah," she said.
This is the fourth year foreign students have come to Utah through the program and the second for German-only groups. Last year's German group enjoyed Utah and their host families so much, that the number of requests rose, she said. There were 60 requests from Germans to stay in Utah this time around, but only 41 could be handled smoothly by the Homestays program, which strives to keep groups smaller and more manageable.
AHA is a homestay and travel organization that seeks to build bridges of understanding between cultures and languages through world travel.
Millburn said shorter stays by students have become very popular now, replacing a lot of the traditional entire school year visits by students. She said both students and host families learn a lot from the visits.
"Differences just melt away," Millburn said. "You find we're all just people."
While in Utah, most of the students will attend area high schools with students in the households and do whatever their families do. The German students and their host families enjoyed a skating welcome party Saturday afternoon at the Bountiful ice rink.
Bountiful Mayor Joe Johnson, Kaysville Mayor Neka Roundy and Davis Commissioner Bret Millburn all welcomed the students there.
The students as a group will also visit downtown Salt Lake City on March 18. They will later visit both Park City and Antelope Island.
Adventure Homestays Abroad has more programs available for this summer and fall, as well as 2009. Students from France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Japan, China, Korea, Costa Rica, and Brazil will need individual homestays for three to five weeks. These students range in age from 14 to college age. Dates are flexible.
AHA is also sponsoring three summer camp type exchanges at the the University of Utah this summer, with several opportunities for students, ages 15-18, to travel abroad with AHA this summer. Chaperones, ages 20 and older, are also needed. The chaperone travels free, all expenses paid except spending money, with a group of 15 or more.For more information, contact Millburn at michelle@ adventurehomestays.org or at 725-0329.